Breech position happens in about 1 out of every 25 pregnancies, according the American Pregnancy Association. Most babies will move into delivery position a few weeks prior to birth, with the head moving closer to the birth canal. When this fails to happen, the baby’s buttocks and/or feet will be positioned to be delivered first. This is referred to as “breech presentation.”
Turning a baby who is in breech presentation is typically done with a combination of acupuncture treatments and moxibustion (commonly referred to as moxa). Moxa is a technique that uses a traditional Chinese herb, called Ai Ye or mugwort leaf, to warm specific acupuncture points. The herbs are usually compressed and rolled into a stick resembling a large incense stick. The heat from the moxa stick stimulates the baby to move thus encouraging it to turn.
Acupuncture and moxa can be effective in turning a breech baby at anytime, however for best results we recommend treatments 1-3 times per week at 34-37 weeks. As the baby grows, there becomes less space in the womb making movement slightly more difficult.
The moxibustion technique is best when applied every day. For this reason, we will teach you and your partner this technique so you may continue treatment to turn your baby at home as well.
Moxibustion Instructions for breech position
- Please consult your acupuncturist before starting a moxibustion protocol.
- Prior to commencing moxibustion, ensure the room is adequately ventilated as moxa will produce profuse, smelly smoke similar to strong incense smoke which can linger in a closed room.
- The pregnant woman should sit in a comfortable, reclining position with loose fitting clothes over her abdomen.
- Her partner should begin by lighting two moxa sticks and hold them bilaterally over UB67 about 2-3cms away from the skin, close enough to feel pleasantly warm but not enough to feel uncomfortable or burn the skin.
- Moxibustion should be applied for a total of 15 minutes daily for 10 consecutive days. If the baby has not turned within this time then the situation should be reassessed by your acupuncturist and follow up advised.
- Moxibustion is best performed in the evening to take full advantage of the horizontal resting position of sleep. With less gravitational pressure bearing down into the woman’s pelvis conditions are more conducive to the baby turning.
- It is not uncommon for women to experience increased fetal movement once the moxa is applied and for the hours following.
- An obstetrician or midwife will confirm if the baby has turned, however most women report having a strong body sensation of the baby moving and somersaulting at the time it occurs.
- Moxa should be ceased as soon as the woman knows for sure that her baby has turned.