I recently participated in a webinar about acupuncture and moxibustion for turning breech babies. I had the honor of hearing from internationally recognized experts in this field including Debra Betts, Ineke Van Den Berg, Sarah Budd, and Becks Armstrong. For those of you who aren’t familiar, moxibustion involves burning an herb called Mugwort, or Artemisia Vulgaris. The herb can be placed directly on the skin or compressed into a cylinder shape and held a few inches from the skin until warmth is felt. The goal is to invigorate blood and warm the body. In an analysis of nine studies on the effectiveness of the technique, eight of the nine studies demonstrated that it was effective in correcting breech presentation whereas in one study poor compliance of the clients led to interruption of the study and no effect could be demonstrated(source, http://bit.ly/inekevandenberg).
How exactly does Acupuncture turn a breech baby?
Acupuncture and moxibustion at a particular point on the outer corner of the pinkie toe increases movement of the baby. Provided there is room, many times this will result in the baby moving its way into a head down position. I recommend weekly acupuncture sessions as well as having a partner or friend perform the moxibustion at home for 15 minutes daily for about 10 days. I send patients home with detailed instructions on performing this simple task, which can be very relaxing for the mother to be!
What is the best time to try it?
It is safe to begin attempting to turn the baby at 30 weeks, but based on research the ideal time is right around 34 weeks. If you have given birth before, it is useful to try up until 39-40 weeks because there is more room in the uterus for the baby to move. If this is your first baby, it is still worth trying but the rate of success is slightly lower.