Though breech presentation appears to be very common, most babies (96-97%) turn into the head down position between week 28 and week 32 of pregnancy. Once the babies have turned, they usually stay in this position because their head is the heaviest part of their body and space to move gradually becomes limited.
If you check with your primary healthcare provider at your regular monthly appointment and baby appears to have not yet turned head down by 33 weeks, this is a great time to try acupuncture and moxibustion. Around 36 weeks, if your baby has not turned, you may be offered an ECV (external cephalic version). This involves manipulating the baby through your abdomen to a head-first position. Although acupuncture and moxibustion are most effective between 33-36 weeks, increasing turning rates to 75.4% from 47.7%, treatments can also increase the success rate of ECVs.
Acupuncture and moxibustion have been shown to be effective treatments that gently encourage the baby to turn into the head down position. These treatments change the mother’s hormonal levels, which cause the baby to increase its movements. They are most effective when preformed at 32 weeks because there is then still a lot of room for the baby to move.
Moxibustion is the burning of herbs over acupuncture points, using heat to activate them. A trained practitioner of Chinese Medicine will teach you how to do these treatments at home daily until the baby turns.
Moxabustion for breech is ideally performed between 33 and 36 weeks for the highest turn rates. At your appointment acupuncture is performed and you are taught how to perform daily moxibustion (a heat therapy that stimulates a specific acupuncture point on the pinky toe) at home. After one week, if the baby has not turned, you repeat one more acupuncture treatment and another week of daily moxibustion.
In a study by Cardini et al. in 1998, published in the Journal of American Medication Association, the moxibustion group had a 75.4% turn rate in comparison to 47.7% in the control group. Most importantly, no side effects or adverse reactions have been noted in this study or any other similar study.