Turn, baby turn! Turning a breech baby with acupuncture & moxibustion
Right before birth, most babies are in a headfirst position in the mother's womb. Sometimes however, the baby is in a bottom-first or feet-first position. This is called a breech birth or breech baby.
A breech position is very common before 28 weeks, and still quite prevalent later in pregnancy, with 7-15% of babies remaining breech at 32 weeks and 3-4% at birth.
But it is still a very stressful issue, particularly for expectant mothers who wish to avoid a C-section and have a natural birth.
So what can Chinese medicine do for your breech baby?
What is moxa?
Moxa or moxibustion is part of the art of Chinese medicine. It is the use of sticks of a dried herb called Mugwort to heat up specific acupuncture points on the body. Sometimes, the practitioner will hover the big cigar-like herb sticks over the body, sometimes, they will use tiny stick-on rolls. It is painless, and feels warm.
Evidence based success with acupuncture and moxa
In one study moxa and acupuncture was compared with a watch-and-wait approach. 75.4% of women treated with acupuncture and moxa had a head first presentation (the one we want) compared to only 47.7% of the control group.
The most common acupuncture point for moxibustion treatment for breech babies is BL 67, located beside the outer corner of the fifth toenail.
The moxa applied to this point stimulates heat receptors on the skin because it emits long- wavelength infrared radiation.
It is thought that the heat encourages the release of two maternal hormones, placental estrogen and prostaglandins which lead to uterine contractions. These contractions can then stimulate the baby to move.
When to receive treatment
The ideal time to use acupuncture and moxibustion is between weeks 33 and 35 of your pregnancy.
After week 35, the chances of turning baby decrease, as your baby is starting to get bigger and has less room to spin, but many breech babies have turned in the last weeks of pregnancy or even as labor starts.
It is best to call as soon as you find out you are breech to discuss your personal case with the acupuncturist.
We will take the time to discuss your options and determine the best course of action is for your unique situation.
We encourage all pregnant women to take advantage of Pre-Birth Acupuncture starting at week 35 to help get your body ready for labor and help support a vaginal birth. Prenatal acupuncture done in the last weeks of pregnancy can reduce the need for interventions like epidurals and emergency C-Sections.
What does the treatment look like
We generally recommend acupuncture 1-2 times per week to help encourage baby to turn, reduce stress, and to relax any tight muscles that might be preventing an ideal presentation.
Moxibustion will given for 15–20 minutes each time. In addition, the acupuncturist will place a few needles on the body and inside the ear.
Continue to get acupuncture treatments after the baby turns, in order to maintain proper position.
Sometimes, after a few treatments, the acupuncturist will teach you how to perform the moxibustion safely at home so you can do it every day until delivery.
After treatment, you will generally feel an increase in fetal movement, and an overall sense of relaxation and well-being.
What to do at home to help a baby turn
Swim. When your stomach is down in the water, baby will have more room.
Spinning Babies: The positions on this website can help your baby settle into position and are highly recommended.
Prenatal yoga with a certified instructor
At home moxa as taught by your acupuncturist after a few sessions
Schedule an appointment with us !