The Chinese medicine answer to turning babies who are not in a head-down position (the best position for labour) does not even involve the insertion of needles. Instead we burn a moxa stick – made from the leaves of the Artemisia argyi (or Chinese mugwort) plant – and use it to warm up a point near the mum’s smallest toe. The warming action of the moxa stick reinvigorates the womb and encourages the baby to move into the best possible position for birth. Research* shows that this protocol is successful for turning 75.4% of babies in the moxibustion group (compared with 47.7% of babies in the control group).
It is also a much less expensive and less invasive way of moving the baby. The alternative is something called external cephalic version, when an obstetrician tries to turn the baby into a head down (cephalic) position by applying pressure on the mum’s abdomen.
I taught my patient’s partner how to administer this moxibustion treatment at home for the next 10 days. He was very excited to be going home to be a “Moxibuster”!
* Cardini, F. and Weixin, H. (1998) ‘Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation’, Journal of the American Medical Association, 280, pp. 1580-1584.