Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique, used to turn babies into the head-down (cephalic) position.
It is a Chinese medicine treatment allied to acupuncture but uses no needles. A dried herb called moxa (mugwort) is tightly rolled into the shape of a cigar. This roll is lit and held above the skin, next to an acupuncture point on the foot called Bladder 67, on the outside of the little toe nail. When lit, the herb smoulders slowly, allowing the heat to permeate into the body. This is believed to affect the flow of qi (energy) and blood flow in the area (British Acupuncture Council 2010).
Research suggests that this technique might be helpful for some women whose babies are not head down. It’s not painful or harmful, and some women may wish to try it before having an external cephalic version (ECV). There’s also some evidence that it might reduce the need for oxytocin and, if combined with acupuncture, may reduce the likelihood of needing a caesarean.
Moxibustion is available at University Hospitals Dorset for women living in Poole and Bournemouth and at Dorset County Hospital.
You may be offered moxibustion if your baby is lying in breech position at 34 weeks, and you have no other complications. If you are eligible, your midwife or obstetrician will refer you.
The appointment for the first treatment usually takes 30 minutes and will be held at University Hospitals Dorset’s Maternity Unit or Dorset County Hospital’s Day Assessment Unit. You will then need to continue with moxibustion at home for 15 minutes every day for seven days – it’s very straightforward and you will be taught how to do this at your appointment.
Although this is generally a safe and gentle procedure, it may not be suitable for you if:
If moxibustion does not help your baby to turn to the head down position, you may be offered an ECV.