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Moxibustion for Breech Baby

A breech baby is when its head is not facing downwards. There are various types of breech, depending on the babyís position inside the womb. There are 3 types of breech position:

  1. Frank breech: The legs are straight up in front of the body, with the feet near the head, making the buttocks the first part of the baby to be delivered.
  2. Complete breech. The buttocks are down near the birth canal. The knees are bent and the feet are near the buttocks.
  3. Footling breech. One leg or both legs are stretched out below the buttocks. The leg or legs are the first part of the baby to be delivered.

Breech babies are quite common. I treat a lot of them in my clinic. The gentlest way of turning a breech baby is to use moxibustion. Moxibustion is the application of heat to specific acupuncture points. Moxa is a plant (artemisia argyi folium) that is used as a heat source to provide moxibustion. It has been used in Asia for over 2000 years. I use smokeless moxa sticks, which are easier for patients to use at home and are less likely to set off a fire alarm. In cases where the baby is back to back (occipito posterior), moxibustion can still help move the baby but it is less effective than if the baby was breech.

To turn a breech baby, heat is applied to the acupuncture point Zhiyin (UB 67). The acupuncture point Zhiyin (UB 67) is located on the outer edge of the little toe, at the corner of the nail, see below. Applying a lit moxa stick pours heat into that point causing the heat to travel up along the urinary bladder meridian, the longest meridian in the body. This heat then moves the baby thereby rectifying the breech. It works in most cases but not all. Sometimes there isnít enough space for the baby to physically move or it doesnít want to or the heat didnít make it move as itís already warm in the uterus.

A review of 6 randomized trials with a total of 1,087 pregnant women that assessed moxibustion for breech presentation was conducted in 2009. The rate of turning the babies among the moxibustion group was 72.5% versus 53.2% in the control group. In terms of safety, no significant differences were found in the comparison of moxibustion with other techniques. The reviewers concluded that moxibustion at acupuncture point Zhiyin (UB 67) has been shown to produce a positive effect, whether used alone or in combination with acupuncture or postural measures, in comparison with observation or postural methods alone.


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