What is moxibustion and how can it turn my baby?
Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy used in Chinese Medicine. “Moxa” a dried leafy plant called mugwort (Artemesia argyi or A.vlugaris) which is burned on or close to the surface of the skin.
Moxibustion is a popular choice for pregnant women with beech babies as it is a simple and non invasive.
The use of acupuncture and moxibustion for attempting to turn breech babies is a well-documented treatment and its simplicity and non invasive nature have made it a popular choice for pregnant woman to explore before conventional medical procedures.
Between weeks 29 and 32 of pregnancy, approximately 15% of babies are in the breech position (Kauppila 1975). Only 3% to 4% of these continue in the breech position until labour. However, the longer this position is maintained into the pregnancy, the less chance there is of the baby turning. Nowadays, the usual management of delivery if the baby is still in the breech position at 38 weeks is to do a caesarean section.
When using Moxa to aid a baby into the optimum position for birth it is applied close to (approx 2cms) a point on the end of the little toe with a moxa roll or a smokeless moxa roll.
A moxa roll is mugwort rolled in paper and lit at one end, it looks a bit like a cigar. It produces smoke and has quite a distinctive smell.
A smokeless moxa roll is a moxa roll but it has been through a process to remove the smoke producing substances, it looks like a roll of charcoal. This is often better for use at home unless you want you living room to smell like an acupuncture clinic!
Providing there are no contradiction, which include multiple births an acupuncturist will take a case history and give treatment. The treatment is simply applying heat to a point called Zhiyin or Bl 67 on the end of each toe for 20 mins. You will also be taught how to do it yourself because it has been shown to be most effective when repeated daily over a period of ten days.
How does it work?
It is not understood exactly how moxibustion works however, the most rigorous study to date found that the warming of a specific point on the little toe with moxa was an effective and safe way to correct a breech position when used between 32 to 35 weeks of gestation.
One working theory is that by warmer Bl67 increases uterine movement and invites the baby to turn. This may be influenced by Bl67 being on an energy channel, acupuncturists work with, which travels over the back of the uterus.