Moxibustion is an unusual and simple acupuncture technique used to reposition malpositioned babies in the lead up to birth. Babies in breech position are often required to be delivered by caesarean section due to higher mortality if birthed vaginally. Many women feel anxious about this situation as labour draws closer and the breech appears fixed. Normally External Cephalic Version,(ECV) is a method of manipulating the baby’s position by pressing the mother’s abdomen to push the baby from a bottom first position, to a head first position but this has not been shown to work after 32 weeks.
Moxibustion for turning breech babies uses a burning cylinder of herbs called moxa which looks similar to a long cigar and is held near an acupuncture point to be stimulated by the moxibustion heat. The rolled herb tube is composed of Mugwort, artemisia vulgaris which when lit smoulders slowly to deliver a focussed heat.The Moxa roll is held about 2 cm above the acupuncture point Zhiyin, meaning “ Reaching Yin” which is located at the outside corner at the nail base of the little toe. Two twenty minute sessions per day of this treatment for 10 days can stimulate fetal movement and help in its repositioning. Traditional Chinese medical theory asserts that the acupoint stimulates the uterine muscle and is highly regarded as a special point for this condition and to “promote labour”. As an ancient technique with surprising clinical efficacy it has been shown to be effective through controlled research trials also. A recent and well conducted trial at John Hunter Hospital in Australia showed promising results justifying further research.
Melbourne Acupuncture performs this treatment and can offer guidance so that this method can be used as self help.