The Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health published a case study on April 13, 2017, describing the successful chiropractic resolution of a frank breech presentation in a pregnant woman. The woman had previously had a cesarean birth, but was able to deliver this baby vaginally.
According to the study, the incidence of breech presentation occurs in 3%-4% of all labors and in 7% of all pregnancies at 32 weeks. The most common breech presentation is what is known as a frank breech presentation and occurs in 64% of all breech pregnancies. A frank breech presentation is when the fetus’s head is up, the legs are flexed at the hip with both knees extended, and the buttocks is down toward the birth canal.
Medically, very few breech presentations spontaneously turn after 34 weeks, thus leading to a caesarean delivery rate of between 80% to 100% of these cases. The study noted that, overall, the rate of caesarean births has increased over the years in the United States to where, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 32.2% of all deliveries in the U.S. were delivered by cesarean in 2014.
The medical approach for correction of a breech presentation is external cephalic version (ECV). This involves the baby being pushed or manipulated by pressure through the mother’s abdominal wall in an attempt to move the baby into a head down position. This ECV procedure is only successful 50% of the time in selective cases.
In this case, a 35-year-old woman in her 34th week of pregnancy came to the chiropractor. An ultrasound by her obstetrician confirmed that her pregnancy was a frank breech presentation. This was her third child. The previous 2 pregnancies both went to full term with the first resulting in a cesarean section and the second resulting in a vaginal birth.
A chiropractic examination was performed which included postural analysis, thermography, and palpation. From the examination, chiropractic care was started including the specific application of a procedure known as the Webster technique. The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association defines the Webster technique as …a specific chiropractic analysis and diversified adjustment. The goal of the adjustment is to reduce the effects of subluxation and/or sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction. In so doing, neurobiomechanical function in the sacral/pelvic region is improved. This technique has long been recognized to have a positive result on breech pregnancies with the result being a spontaneous turn into a vertex position.
The woman was adjusted 4 times over the next two weeks. On her fifth visit, the woman reported that the fetus had turned and was now in the normal vertex position. This was confirmed by an ultrasound performed after her fourth chiropractic visit. The woman was able to go on to have a normal vaginal birth with no complications.
In explaining how chiropractic could help this woman with her breech pregnancy, the authors described the process in their discussion section. Chiropractic adjustments, often for the purpose of correcting vertebral subluxation, confer measurable health benefits to people regardless of the presence or absence of symptoms. These health benefits are unique for each individual person and involve many physiological and/or biomechanical changes. The Webster Technique specifically addresses the subluxation complex of the sacrum and the pelvic articulations with the round ligament.