Talking 'bout a revolution.....
One of the better-known treatment protocols in Chinese Medicine is the use of moxibustion to help turn breech babies. It's something I have been doing in clinical practice for almost a decade now but over the years I have undertaken more specialist postgrad training, both in acupuncture and with Spinning Babies, which has greatly informed how I work with women and their babies at this time.
And, excitingly (for me, at least) here's what I can tell you.
Since June 2020 I have been keeping track of how successful my treatments have been in helping encourage babies to get into the optimal position for birth (cephalic, or head down) because it was important to me to track where it was working or where it may not have been.
9 out of 10 babies turned.
I believe in Chinese Medicine but, honestly, even I was surprised by that! But what we are taught is this: if the baby can turn, it will turn.
Here I suggest you try and start moxibustion as close to 34 weeks as possible but I have worked with several women who didn't know their babies were breech until 36 weeks, and they turned too.
Of course sometimes babies turn, and then turn back. That's where they want to be, they know why and we need to trust that too.
Why are babies breech?
There are many reasons a baby might present as breech past 34 weeks (many turn spontaneously before then) and 3-4% of babies present this way. I don't know if this has increased statistically during lockdown - I have seen more than usual but that is definitely not a representative sample.
Certainly the recent months have certainly led to a decrease in activity for many women in the UK - they may not be commuting, socialising as they would, can't access exercise as easily and the curtailment of these things can really affect the pelvic alignment and flexibility as well as the abdominal and rib spaces.
I always recommend the Spinning Babies daily stretches to clients, now more than ever, because this definitely makes a difference. And of course if the baby is breech they have special techniques to try.
A friend also told me that when the mother is sad the baby moves its head towards the heart to comfort her. I don't have any idea if this is true, but it feels true. Certainly I have treated women who needed a much broader treatment approach than just a 'straightforward' breech treatment and releasing emotional stagnation seemed to play a major part in helping the body open properly and find its optimal alignment.
It's not just about moxibustion.
I also work with an incredible network of osteopaths and chiropractors with extensive experience and training in this work (if you are looking for a chiropractor make sure they know the Webster Technique). I regularly refer my clients to them because it is all very well for me to direct the baby to move, but we need to make sure they have enough room to! This is especially important if you are around 35/36 weeks.
Our bodies hold all kinds of tension and effects of impacts, accidents and surgeries and pregnancy can often bring this to the fore or exacerbate underlying imbalance in the musculoskeletal system. It's not just about getting the baby to move head down, it's sometimes also about making sure the baby can engage with the cervix in the optimal way for labour. That's a whole other post as it is a big topic, but important to mention here too.
When might we not offer moxibustion as a Chinese medicine practitioner? These don't all preclude you from trying moxibustion (and this is not the full list) but we may refer to your obstetrician or midwife to have them sign off first.
Any recent surgery, including a c-section, low-lying placenta or placenta prevue (we can treat that too if you come and see us earlier in pregnancy, that's a separate post!), any uterine or pelvic abnormalities, issues around amniotic fluid levels, history of bleeding in pregnancy, threatened premature labour, any hint of foetal distress, twins and triplets, maternal hypertension or any signs of pre-eclampsia, diabetes, and Rh negativity.
The Kidneys have a very special role in Chinese Medicine, far beyond the physical function we understand from a Western medicine perspective. Imagine your two kidneys as a personal jetpack on your back; our stamina, our endurance, our ability to keep going when we are tired or need to find the juice for that extra mile comes from these bad boys.
Our kidneys are said to house Jing, one of the three treasures of Chinese Medicine. This essence is our energetic stock cube, the concentrated good stuff, THE JETPACK.
This is what our body draws on when we are highly stressed, in danger, running on empty - the kind most of us are using at the moment!
There are some simple things we can do to look after our Kidneys, especially at this time of the year. Why in Winter? The Kidneys and Bladder are the manifestation of the Water Element, associated with Winter, the time of the year when nature is taking a rest in order to replenish herself for the year ahead. It's a good idea to take her lead!
Sleep Well or Take a Break at 5pm.
One of the best ways we have to counteract the effects of using our jetpack is to sleep well. It allows our nervous system to rest properly, balances our hormones, supports the health of our immune system, and so much more.
But if - like me - you are finding this kind of sleep harder to come by at the moment then my 'go to tip' is to meditate or do a Yoga Nidra practise.
This is 'Kidney' time according to the Chinese Clock, so if you are low on jetpack reserves this is the time when you are most likely to feel it. This is said to be equivalent to 2 hours of deep sleep. So, you can give the jetpack a rest and show your Kidneys a little love with this low-key but powerful yoga practice.
Stay Warm In the Winter.
The Kidney meridian begins on the sole of the foot, it's the only meridian to have contact with the earth in this way, but it does mean it's basically a direct line to conduct cold directly to the Kidneys.
So if you have wooden floors or tiles, get yourself some socks that you love a decent pair of baffies (that's slippers if you're English) and keep Kidney 1 covered.
The lower back should also stay warm, and if you are prone to feeling the cold you could do worse than invest in a haramaki, which is basically a Japanese boob tube for the waist. You will thank me for it.
This message is EVEN MORE important if you are trying to conceive. You remember I mentioned Jing the essence, the treasure that we inherit? Well, strong Jing helps with conception. Freezing your jings off ain't gonna help.
Also if your feet are always cold see an acupuncturist - that's not a normal thing, even if its normal for you. And do all of the above.
Listen To Your Ears!
In Chinese Medicine the ears are the sense organ associated with the Kidney Official, the link between tinnitus and deficient Kidney Qi well established in this modality.
When the Kidneys are healthy then our hearing is sharp. Kidneys, Jing essence, depletes with age (or as the Kidney essence depletes), so it makes sense to us practitioners that getting harder of hearing as you get older happens.
And whaddya know Western medicine is finally at the party, whoop!!
Recent research has shown that tinnitus is 3-fold more likely to develop in patients with versus without chronic kidney disease.
Essentially the tissue in the kidney is the same as the tissue in the inner ear, so this all adds up. But you know what is mind blowing? The Chinese knew this thousands of years ago. A system of medicine developed then is still more than fit for purpose. Hell yeah!
Drink More Water.
The message is simple. Drink enough water. Quite simply, everything that happens in our body requires being properly hydrated for that to happen. Water powers us. Without it, nothing else happens. We all know this.
But when it's cold the last thing we feel like doing is gubbing a large glass of water. So have a pint glass by the bed and take that on board first thing. Your bowels will show their appreciation.
Then fill a carafe of water as you stick the kettle on for your morning brew. By the time you are showered or have worked out or whatever it is you do first thing, it will get to room temperature and you can fill and refill your glass from that. It's much easier to drink, I promise!
If you are working from home have it next to you, as it is a rule of life that it is even harder to remember to drink enough water when it's not an excuse to have a gossip by the communal waterfilter or in the kitchen.
That is all. If your pee is yellow, drink water. If your pee smells, drink water. If you are tired, drink water. If you are thirsty, drink even more water. If you're a bit bored, drink water. If your skin is dry, drink water.
Look after your Jetpack!
Passionate about the pins.
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