Since my wife and I made it public that we were expecting our first child this December, it seems like I’m seeing pregnant women everywhere. Especially in my clinic! For nearly a decade I’ve been helping couples with fertility issues conceive naturally as well as help improve rates for IUI and IVF protocols. These conditions respond amazingly to acupuncture because of main effects of acupuncture. The first being acupuncture’s ability to relax a person both physically and mentally. Back in 1978 Harvard did a study on stress management and infertility and found that when women who were labeled “infertile” found outlets like meditation yoga and stretching, 57% of them were able to conceive naturally. Acupuncture can perform the same stress relieving function as it helps the body shift from a Sympathetic Nervous System response ( Fight or Flight) to a Parasympathetic Nervous System Response ( Rest and Digest). For more information on acupuncture and mental health, please see here.
The second function of acupuncture that greatly enhances fertility is increased circulation. A common diagnosis for women in Oriental Medicine is “blood deficiency.” This does not mean that you are “a quart low” but more so that the energetic qualities of the blood are not circulating well enough and nourishing the tissues they come in contact with. Acupuncture helps build “better quality” blood and helps it circulate to the ovaries and uterus. This helps nourish the tissues and regulate hormone levels allow for easier conception. All of this is pretty amazing, and the reward is to see a child after the treatment process, but the real reason I’m writing today is to tell about a very simple and effective treatment which seems bizarre even by acupuncture standards.
That is helping invert a fetus in the breech position!
Odd, but true, this treatment is very old and very successful. Books going back nearly 1000 years state that a point on the little toe can be stimulated to change the position of a baby in the womb. We use moxibustion at this point and another on the leg and most patients report that the baby moves with some vigor anywhere from immediately after the treatment to several hours later. This can usually be accomplished in one treatment, but I have had some stubborn babies that have needed up to five.
Things that will improve the effect of this baby turning acupuncture treatment:
I have had good success with the treatment but here are some things to consider when you want to get this treatment.
- Ideally we would like to do this treatment around week 35 of your pregnancy. I have seen it work up to week 39, but there isn’t much room for the baby to move. For best results contact us as soon as you know the baby is breeched.
- Give the baby as much room as possible with yoga. After doing the procedure I routinely instruct women to go home and do the Cat Pose in yoga. This position allows the belly to hang and gentle pulls the spine and organs away from the baby, giving him or her more room to move. Women may do this several times and hold the position for up to 30 seconds each time. There may be increased motion from the baby which is exactly what we are looking for.
- On occasion I’ll send a patient home with a moxa pole, which is used to warm acupuncture points and channels by lighting the end and holding it close to the body. Women who can feel were the baby’s body is positioned can encourage the baby to move by holding the moxa pole above their belly by the head of their baby. This is not usually a stand alone method and has mixed results by itself.
- And as always, if first you don’t succeed, try, try again. If there is significant movement the first time, most likely the job is done. If not, I recommend treatments every other day until 3-5 treatments are done, depending on how close we are to the due date. In most cases these treatments only last 15 minutes and are relatively cheap because they are so short.
As a final note about treating breach position babies, I would strongly recommend trying moxibustion prior to the physical manipulation method as it is must gentler on both the baby and the mother.
Other things we should mention, acupuncture and Oriental Medicine can be very helpful once your new bundle is finally out. We can also be very helpful in treating many post-partum problems such as fatigue, depression, and help promote lactation. Even babies can benefit from pediatric acupuncture which is a needle-less treatment consisting of tools used to massage channels and points on your babies body. These quick treatments can really help with many conditions like colic and help you baby sleep through the night.
If you’d like to receive a information card entitled Acupuncture & Pregnancy which give you some insight on how acupuncture can help with may common problems with pregnancy, please email me.
We also have information on how acupuncture can help infertility.