Acupuncture may help turn a baby in breech

Chinese medicine is highly effective in caring for both mother and baby during pregnancy. Since the late nineties there has been evidence to suggest that your breech baby can be turned to its optimal position for birth using moxibustion, a Chinese medicine technique.

It’s done by using moxa stick to warm the acupuncture point at the end of your little toe, the last point on your bladder meridian!

You’d be forgiven for thinking that it all sounds like a load of hocus pocus. However, the Chinese have been doing this for women for centuries with great success. Ok, it’s not the kind of procedure you’re used to when it comes to all matters pregnancy but it’s natural, stress-free for you and baby, and more often than not, it works.

What is Moxibustion?

Moxibustion is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique which has been used for thousands of years by acupuncturists. It involves the use of moxa sticks (made from dried mugwort) to apply heat to acupuncture points – this particular herb is chosen because of the intensity of heat it produces when burned. When attempting to turn a breech baby, the acupuncture point that is used is called ‘Bladder 67’ and it is located on the little toe. Bladder 67 is at the end of the Bladder meridian, an acupuncture energy line which runs from the inner edge of each eye, across the top of the head, down each side of the spinal cord (where it branches to the bladder), down the back of both legs to terminate next to the nail on the little toes. By stimulating this point the muscles in the uterus are relaxed and the baby is able to turn into the ‘head down’ position.

While stimulating Bladder 67, either with Moxa sticks or during a regular acupuncture treatment, the baby can become incredibly active … an amazing experience for both the mum-to-be and for the practitioner!

What is Breech Presentation?

Most babies present head down (cephalic presentation), however approximately 3% present bottom first … this is called Breech Presentation. Breech babies are normally delivered by Caesarean Section due to increased risks of infant mortality and morbidity. If appropriate, from 36-37 weeks mums are offered a procedure called ECV (External Cephalic Version), where an obstetrician will attempt to turn the baby by pushing on the baby through the mother’s abdomen to encourage the baby to do a somersault and move into the head down position. The ECV procedure can be quite uncomfortable for mum and baby. An alternative to the ECV which is gaining popularity with midwives in the West is Moxibustion, as this procedure encourages the baby to turn spontaneously, and is a pleasant stress free natural experience.

Is this treatment suitable for all Breech Presentations?

Moxibustion is a safe and gentle way of attempting to turn a breech baby, as the baby does all the work. A full and detailed consultation is always taken to ensure holistic approach is taken and that both mum and baby are fully informed of the procedure.

When is the best time to try Moxibustion?

The ideal time for moxibustion is from 33 weeks, onwards. When attempting moxibustion we do not want the baby to engage as it will be too late, as birth may happen any time soon. So timing is crucial to success.

What happens during a Moxibustion treatment?

Treatments should be continued 2-3 times a week. The client remains fully clothed throughout the treatment with the exception of bare feet. A moxibustion treatment with Matt takes 1 hour the first half of the treatment consists of building a holistic picture of what is happening in the body. The second half of the treatment will consist of moxibustion and acupuncture.

What will I feel after a Moxibustion treatment?

If your baby has turned, you will feel a great deal of movement followed by less pressure under your diaphragm, and you will be able to breathe more easily. You will also feel the baby’s kicking in a different place. Get the baby’s position checked by your Doctor or Midwife. Generally, once the baby has turned, the weight of their head tends to keep them head down.