Right before birth, most babies have turned into a head-down position in the mother’s uterus. Sometimes the baby is breech, where they are in a bottom-first (or feet-first) position. As the due date approaches, the doctor will be able to tell by physical examination, ultrasound (or both) if the baby is breech. More complications can occur in such cases and the doctor may recommend a caesarean delivery. Others may suggest exercises or other procedures that may help turn the baby.
Alternative natural remedies include the use of acupressure and moxibustion. Doris Seau, a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) massage practitioner and yoga instructor specializing in the health of women and children, explains, “Moxibustion is an externally applied treatment using a herb called Moxa [Artemisia argyi], also known as Chinese Mugwort. It has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Basically, it is compressed and rolled into a cigar-shaped stick, which is then lit and held over specific acupuncture points. The heat produces the effect of stimulating the acupoint, boosting blood circulation and increasing the energy flow, or Qi, in the uterus to make more room for the breech baby to turn.”
Combined with an acupressure massage treatment, moxa helps to increase fetal movement, and the effect of gravity will encourage the heaviest part of the baby, the head, to enter the pelvis as it shifts its position. This method is effectively used in pregnancy from 29 to 35 weeks, two to three times a week. “A baby can turn after the first session but sometimes it takes a few tries,” says Doris, who has enjoyed 80 percent success in turning breech babies over the course of her career.
In addition to addressing breech babies, acupressure and moxibustion can help prepare a woman for labour. Stimulating the body’s natural pressure points can cause the uterus to contract, safely inducing labour. This treatment would be appropriate for a woman who has gone past her due date or whose water has broken but has not entered labour; or one who is already in labour but needs stronger contractions to push the baby out.
Doris cautions, “As with other natural ways of inducing labour, this method only takes effect when the cervix is ripe and the body is ready for delivery.” She adds, “These treatments are very beneficial to pregnant women as an alternative to medical procedures such as C-sections. While not guaranteed, the treatments have a very good 70 to 90 percent chance of helping a woman have a normal delivery. And I hope more women in Thailand get to know about these options.”
For more information on prenatal moxibustion, including how to get in touch with Doris Seau, please click here.