Breech presentation is when the baby’s buttocks or feet, rather than the baby’s head, are presenting closest to the cervix. While it is common for babies to be in breech presentation before 28 weeks, only 7-15% remain in breech position by 32 weeks and only 3-4% by the time of birth. Currently, other than delivery by c-section, conventional medicine addresses breech presentation by a procedure called External Cephalic Version. In this procedure, mom and baby are medically monitored while an obstetrician attempts to manually turn baby into the proper position. While this procedure produces mild success rates it does come with some risks. It is, however, more successful than no intervention at all. Another option available to women is a treatment with a long tradition in Chinese medicine: moxibustion. Although limited, there is now evidence that moxibustion may increase the chances of baby turning head down before labour.
Moxibustion is a treatment is which a Chinese herb called mugwort is warmed in order to create a long-wavelength, infrared heat which is used to stimulate a specific acupuncture point. The stimulation has been known to affect maternal hormones, encouraging gentle contractions in the uterus and thereby increasing fetal activity. It is also useful to note that, compared to conventional care, no studies to date have found an increased risk of premature rupture of membranes, or of other pregnancy complications, in women receiving moxibustion.
To learn about research on breech and moxibustion click here