A breech baby is a concern for the expectant mother. Regardless of where you plan to deliver your baby, you know that crown down is the best way to go. In many cases breach babies between 33-36 weeks will turn head down spontaneously. In rare cases breech babies can turn during labor. So what should you do if you discover your blessed bundle is bottom down?
What is Moxibustion?
Know that you have options that work. As an acupuncturist, one of my most potent tools for a breech baby is moxibustion on an acupuncture point on the outer corner of the nail on the pinky toe (see illustration). This point is the last point on the bladder channel its name is “Reaching Yin.” Moxibustion is a technique that uses the herb mugwart (aka moxa) to stimulate the body’s energy through heat. There are a number of ways to apply moxa; for turning a breech baby, a pole form of moxa is often used. The moxa pole is lit and it is held over Reaching Yin on one foot until the point feels very warm and then it is applied to the other foot. This is done for 15-20 minutes 1-2 times a day until the baby turns. This technique has a 75% success rate when administered between 34 to 36 weeks.
When I do this treatment, I get mom’s hips higher (about 12 inches) than her head by propping them on pillows while she reclines on a table. This allows gravity to pull baby’s body out of the pelvis and give him room to move. If this position is unbearable, being on hands and knees with head on the floor can use gravity in a similar way.
When to Seek Treatment
The optimal time to start turning a breech baby is at 34 weeks. At this point there is still room for the baby to easily move head down. After 36 weeks the baby is large enough that it will be harder for the baby to move by its own accord. So be sure your obstetrical provider is confident of baby’s position by 34 weeks. If you think baby is not in the best position, this would be a good reason to have an ultrasound to confirm position. If your baby is breech, consider contacting an acupuncturist who works with pregnant moms. If you do not have access to an acupuncturist or moxa you can try taping small beans to Reaching Yin. In addition to moxibustion, an acupuncturist is likely to use acupuncture and nutritional support to help you at this point in your pregnancy. You will be sent home with moxa poles to administer the daily treatment at home. This is a great job for dad and dad can talk or sing to baby near mom’s lower abdomen to help guide baby down. If there is a large movement and you suspect baby has turned, get baby’s position confirmed before doing any more moxa.
If you find your baby is breech at 34 weeks, seek out support to help your baby get crown down.