Acupuncture + Moxibustion for Turning Breech Babies
Although many women have been known to be able to give birth to breech babies vaginally, most doctors these days have little to no experience with this type of delivery and feel more comfortable performing an external cephalic version or scheduling a cesarean section if a baby is not in an optimal position (vertex, or head down) towards the end of a pregnancy; however, the good news is that acupuncture for breech babies has been used successfully for centuries.
Women who would like to avoid these medical interventions, both of which come with risks, or simply want to encourage an easier labor and birth may consider a combination of acupuncture and a type of Chinese medicine heat therapy called, “moxibustion” or “moxa.”
It may sound almost too good to be true, but clinically, acupuncturists are having very good success with turning breech babies using moxibustion in combination with acupuncture.
Typically, an acupuncture treatment is given to the mother-to-be that includes an acupuncture point on the outer side of the pinky toes that is used for breech, Zhiyin (UB67). Either during the acupuncture or afterwards, moxibustion is performed on the same point for about five minutes. Licensed acupuncturists may send their patient home with moxa sticks and written instructions on how to perform this technique. She may be advised to return for two to three more acupuncture sessions in quick succession to try and help the process and/or apply acupressure at home.
Moxibustion can come in varying forms depending on how the practitioner plans to apply it, but usually a tightly rolled stick of mugwort herb (Artemisia vulgaris), much like a long cigar, is lit on fire and begins to slowly smolder. The hot end of the moxibustion stick is then held over this specific acupuncture point to warm the point. This technique repeated daily for 3-5 minutes per side of the body has given success to some mothers in flipping breech babies. The highest success rates are usually in the 34-35th weeks of pregnancy, as the baby runs out of space soon after and then naturally it becomes more difficult.
There are many theories to why these methods are indeed effective, but in China, moxibustion on Zhiyin (UB67) point has long been used to correct abnormal fetal position and is widely used to correct breech presentation in obstetrics.
Drinking lots of water, keeping your weight forward in a sitting position, and keeping hydrated are just some of the other important recommendations your licensed acupuncturist may give you to facilitate your baby’s movement towards a vertex position. It may also be important to try and facilitate movement and physical space in the hips and pelvis as well as address any other issues such as anxiety, insomnia, back pain or digestive issues in pregnancy.
Additional options to help turn a breech baby that may be recommended by your acupuncturist or birth professional are…
Forward leaning inversion from Spinning babies
Talk with your doctor before you try any of the above methods to make sure there are no contraindications for you.