Breech presentation refers to a fetal position which is not optimal for vaginal delivery. This is diagnosed usually around the 32nd or 34th week of pregnancy. It is most often followed with an appointment for what is called a ‘manual version’, when the doctor maneuvers the baby into a more optimal position with their hands through your belly. Women hear about acupuncture and moxibustion at this time and we receive many calls wondering if it works. The answer: Sometimes! It is not a 100% effective way to turn a baby but it definitely works for many women. Most success will be had if a woman begins trying to turn her baby before 34 weeks. After that time, things get very tight inside the uterus and the baby is less likely to move on his/her own.
How does Acupuncture and Moxibustion help babies in breech position?
The answer to this question is that it is not very well understood. There is one point near the end of the little toe on either foot that has been used empirically for turning breech babies for thousands of years. Moxibustion, also known as moxa, burned near this point is the traditional way to stimulate it. Moxa is a Chinese herb that has been processed and formed into a cigar-shaped stick which burns very slowly and gives off penetrating warmth.
Years of experience have shown us that it is also important to include a full body acupuncture treatment to help the woman relax and let go of any tension she may unconsciously be holding in her body. Acupuncture almost always stimulates the baby to move a bit with the rise in endorphins and this combined with deep relaxation can also help the baby turn. During the treatment, we teach the woman how to apply the moxa herself and send her home with plenty of sticks. She then gets someone to burn the moxa near the points a couple of times a day between appointments.
How many treatments will I need?
That depends on your baby! As soon as people start coming in for treatment, we can keep treating periodically up until the scheduled manual version. Once or twice a week is a normal plan. As mentioned above, you will also be given moxa to take home and give yourself treatments in the interim. Some babies turn right away during the first treatment, others are more stubborn.