Acupuncture for Fetal Malposition: What You Need to Know


Studies have found that acupuncture for fetal malposition can be quite effective in helping turn fetuses for safe and healthy vaginal birth. When the head of a fetus isn’t in the optimal position for vaginal delivery, it’s considered to be a malposition or malpresentation. This can lead to a difficult labor or other complications, and it can also interfere with a woman’s wishes for a natural delivery.


If your due date is looming close and you’ve found that your baby isn’t in the right position yet, acupuncture can help you and your little one get to the right place. Acupuncture, as well as a practice called moxibustion, can be effective in making birth easier and safer.


acupuncture for fetal malposition
Photo via Pixabay


Fetal malposition or malpresentation

The top of the head of a fetus should normally be positioned toward the mother’s vagina to make vaginal delivery easier and safer. However, there are instances in which a fetus still has not turned right up to the moment of delivery. This is what doctors consider to be fetal malposition, the most common type of which is breech. A fetus in breech position has its legs or buttocks, instead of the top of the head, positioned toward the vagina.


There are other types of malposition or malpresentation as well. A fetus may lie sideways, and though it will still be born with its head first, it will still be in an improper position. Sometimes, the fetus’s may come out first instead of the top of the head, or it may come out with its shoulder in the mother’s pelvis.



Usually, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of fetal malposition or malpresentation. However, malposition may have something to do with factors such as placenta previa, multiple gestation, or preterm pregnancy. A short umbilical cord, pelvic tumors, uterine anomalies, fetal anomalies, and other issues may also factor into fetal malposition.


Effects of malposition or malpresentation

Fetal malposition carries with it some risks. For one thing, it can prolong labor and make it more difficult, leading to stress for both the fetus and the mother. It can also make a caesarian section more likely, since the surgery can reduce the risks of complications.


A caesarian section is a major surgery, and it takes a longer time to recover from compared to natural vaginal birth. Still, it does make birth safer for both the mother and the baby. However, it’s also an additional cost, and has its share of complications as well.


The best bet, therefore, is to induce the fetus to turn to its proper position. Of course, this is easier said than done. However, acupuncture for fetal malposition can be helpful, thus reducing the risk of complications during birth.


Acupuncture for fetal malposition

There is research that acupuncture can help reposition fetuses in breech or other types of malposition. Acupuncture may seem quite daunting or intimidating. It’s especially more so if you’re not familiar with it or if you haven’t really heard much about it. However, acupuncture is relatively low-risk. Many in the medical community have also recognized acupuncture to be safe for a variety of issues.


Acupuncture is a good alternative or complement to Western medicine. However, you’ll need the advice of your physician before undergoing acupuncture treatments, especially if you’re pregnant. Make sure to consult with your obstetrician first before you make an appointment for an acupuncture session.


acupuncture for fetal malposition
Photo by Camila Cordeiro/


Acupuncture in a nutshell

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture is considered to be an effective and important way to restore the normal flow of qi. Qi (pronounced “chee”), is an energy force that flows through every individual. When qi flows normally along markers in the body called meridians, it results in good physical, mental, and emotional health.


However, when the flow of qi is disrupted, blocked, or concentrated around certain meridians, it can affect a person’s well-being.


A licensed acupuncturist inserts very fine needles into certain acupuncture points to deal with and manage certain symptoms. The needles stimulate these acupuncture points and push qi back into its normal flow.


Acupuncture for fetal malposition is at its safest at the hands of a licensed and experienced acupuncturist. Luckily, the owner of the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic, Tram Pham, is a Licensed Acupuncturist with a deep knowledge and understanding of TCM. She has a Master’s Degree in Chinese Medicine from Yo San University in Los Angeles, as well as years of experience in treating patients in accordance with the principles of TCM.


acupuncture in Santa Barbara



Acupuncture isn’t the only way to stimulate acupuncture points. When it comes to the correction of breech malposition, an acupuncturist usually uses moxibustion instead of acupuncture. Moxibustion involves the use of heat generated by burning herb preparations containing an herb called moxa. The most common moxibustion technique is lighting a moxa stick on fire and bringing it close to the skin at the relevant acupuncture points. Tram will also teach you how to do this during your appointment, and send you home with moxibustion to continue your treatment at home.


Moxibustion has been found to be safe for both women and fetuses, and it does not cause burns.


Of course, acupuncture can be effective as well. In fact, practitioners have been using acupuncture to turn breech fetuses for about 1,000 years. Studies have shown that acupuncture is effective in helping correct fetal malposition, thus helping reduce complications and reduce the likelihood that a caesarian section would be necessary.


It’s possible, however, that successful moxibustion may render acupuncture unnecessary in cases of fetal malposition.


Acupuncture at the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic

If you need moxibustion or acupuncture for fetal malposition or other issues, come visit the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic. Dr. Jean Yu founded the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic in 1986, and the clinic has been providing Santa Barbara with all-natural and holistic health care since then. Our Licensed Acupuncturist, Tram, has years of experience in TCM and specializes in women’s health.


Get in touch with us and make an appointment to address your various health needs. Call us at 805-563-0222 or email us at to schedule an appointment. However, you can also have a consultation with Tram over the phone or via video call. Contact us today to learn more about how you can take control of your health!