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In 1998, Cardini and Weixin carried out a randomized controlled trial in Italy involving 260 primigravidas in the 33rd week of pregnancy, all with normal pregnancies and diagnosed with breech via ultrasound. Half of these women were randomized to the intervention group and received acupuncture and moxa stimulation for 7 days. They were given treatment for a further 7 days if the fetus remain in the breech position. The other 130 were randomized to the control group and receive routine care but no moxibustion. In a 1-hour observation period over 7 days during the 35th week of gestation, the intervention group experienced a mean of 48.5 fetal movements compared with 35.5 in the control group.
According to the researchers, the heat encourages the release of two pregnancy hormones—placental estrogen and prostaglandins—which can lead to uterine contractions. These contractions can then stimulate the baby to move. The stimulation of acupuncture point BL67 with both acupuncture and moxibustion is a safe and effective treatment in revolving the fetus in a breech presentation, according to Kanakura et al in 2001.
Breech presentation was successfully corrected by stimulating acupuncture points with moxibustion or even with low-frequency electrical current. More recently in Italy, Neri et al (2004) studied a total of 240 pregnant women at 33-35 weeks gestational age, carrying a breech presentation baby. The primary outcome of the study was fetal presentation at birth. 114 women were randomized to observation only while 112 went on to receive acupuncture and moxibustion. At delivery, there was a significantly higher cephalic presentation in the acupuncture with 53.6% versus 36.7 % in the observation group.
Acupuncture plus moxibustion is more effective than observation in revolving fetuses in breech presentation. Such a method appears to be a valid option for women willing to experience a natural birth. If you know you have a breech or posterior, it is best to start treatment early around week 33-34, and not to wait till past week 36. It is best if treatment is sustained for one full course. After your first session, which is a mix of acupuncture, moxa and cranisacral therapy, you will be given ‘homework’ to do on your own. Note that the course of treatment should be complemented with postural change exercises and other natural interventions.
Cardini F. & Weixin H. (1998), “Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation: A randomized controlled trial.” JAMA 280(18), 1580-1584.
Kanakura et al (2001), “Moxibustion treatment of breech presentation”
Neri et al (2004), “Acupuncture plus moxibustion to resolve breech presentation: a randomized controlled study.”