I have heard that moxibustion a technique of Chinese medicine is very effective in correcting breech presentation. What is moxibustion? And how good is it for turning the baby in the womb?
Moxibustion, or Moxa for short, is an ancient form of heat therapy. Moxa uses the ground up leaves of the plant Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris). These are either rolled into sticks for indirect moxa, or the powdery substance is made into tiny cones and burned on ointment or a ginger slice, which is then placed on the acupuncture point. That is called direct moxa. In Chinese, the term for acupuncture is “Zhen Jiu.” The “Zhen” means “needle,” and the “Jiu” means “moxa.” Thus, acupuncture and moxibustion have been paired therapies for hundreds of years.
Burning moxa has a distinct odour, which some people find relaxing. The essential oils in moxa have a significant effect, as a type of aromatherapy or medicinal incense. All over the world, mugwort has had a good reputation as a plant that keeps evil away. In European folk tradition, mugwort was put into dream pillows to keep bad dreams away. The ‘sagebrush’ of the west is mostly Artemisia tridentata, closer to mugwort than to sage.
During indirect moxa, the smouldering moxa stick is held a couple inches away from the skin, usually around the inserted needles or just above the acupuncture point. The practitioner will monitor the heat level, and work with the patient to provide a therapeutic level of heat while maintaining comfort and safety.
Throughout most of pregnancy, a woman’s uterus has enough space to allow the foetus to move comfortably and change position. By the 36th week of pregnancy, most foetuses turn into a head-down, or “vertex” position, which is the normal and safest position for birth. In about 4 percent of all pregnancies, however, the baby does not move to the vertex position. This results in a breech presentation, in which a baby’s feet, legs or buttocks – rather than the head – are the first to come out during delivery. Breech deliveries may lead to more complications during childbirth than normal deliveries, and often require a caesarean section to be performed, adding extra in medical costs and increasing the risk of harm to the mother. The technique of moxibustion to correct breech presentation involves heating acupuncture points BL-67 on both feet with moxa poles for 15 minutes once a day for 5 days then waiting a few days to check if baby has turned, if not then this treatment is continued for a further 5 days. Most research show that the optimal time to carry out this technique is between the 34th and 36th week of gestation. Acupuncture correction of foetal mal-presentation is a relatively simple, efficacious and inexpensive method associated with a lower percentage of operatively completed deliveries, which will definitely reflect in improved parameters of vital and peri-natal statistics. Recent randomised controlled trials in China indicate varying success rates ranging from 89.9 to 90.3%