Between 29-32 weeks 15% of all babies will be in a breech position. This means that the baby is presenting with its buttock, knees or feet pointing down. Only 3-4% of these presentations will stay in this position until labour.
As such, breech presentation is considered normal in preterm pregnancies and is not generally medically diagnosed until the last few weeks of pregnancy.
While the majority of breech babies turn spontaneously before birth, the longer a baby stays in the breech position with conditions becoming more cramped, the less likely it will be to turn of its own volition.
Vaginal birth for a breech baby is uncommon as the skills to assist women have been lost. Most doctors recommend a caesaran birth for breech babies.
A more desirable remedy for this situation is to find an effective way of turning the baby quickly and safely to the physiologically desirable head-down position.
By the time women presents at a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic, they are usually at a crossroads. If their baby remains in breech position their freedom of choice around birthing options is dramatically reduced and the time to turn the baby naturally is fast running out.
Moxibustion is an externally applied TCM treatment using a Chinese herb called Moxa (Artemisia argyi), commonly known as ‘Mugwort’. For external use Moxa is compressed and rolled into a cigar-shaped herbal stick. Moxa sticks are then lit and held over acupuncture points. The radiant heat produced has the effect of stimulating the point.
During a TCM consultation to turn a breech baby the practitioner will take a comprehensive case history, make a diagnosis and apply the appropriate acupuncture treatment. They will assess if moxibustion might be helpful.
Practitioners will then instruct women on how to locate the appropriate acupuncture points and demonstrate how to safely apply moxa at home.