Moxibustion: A Safe and Effective Solution For Breech Presentation

Did you know there is a natural technique known as moxibustion that can be used to turn a breech baby? Did you know that it is effective in turning a baby in 75% of cases? 

Going into the last weeks of pregnancy knowing your baby is breech can be very anxiety provoking.  As few obstetricians deliver babies presenting in breech position, most hospitals and birthing centers require women with breech babies to schedule a cesarian section, which may not be part of the desired birth plan.  For women facing this predicament there are several options. 

If you have a baby in breech position you might have been offered an external cephalic version (EVC).  AN EVC or version is a procedure in which a birth professional attempts to manually turn the baby.  As you might imagine this can be painful.  Because this intense procedure can stimulate uterine contractions and fetal distress, an injection of tocolytic medicine to prevent uterine contractions, or even an epidural may be given.  It also carries the risk of potentially needing an emergency C-section.  For all of that trouble the average success rate is 58% and risks, though low, may include:

  • Twisting or squeezing the umbilical cord, reducing blood flow
  • Initiating labor prematurely due to rupture of the amniotic sac 
  • Uterus rupture, placenta abruptio (premature separation of placenta from the uterine wall), damage to the umbilical cord

If that doesn’t sound like a good option to you, fortunately there is another safe and effective solution: Moxibustion!

It is becoming more and more common for me to receive referrals from local OBGYNs for moxibustion for breech presentation.  Not only is it safe and relaxing, but it is one of the most effective tools for turning a breech baby, boasting a 75% success rate if done properly.

Here’s how it’s done:

Moxibustion is a treatment in which a Chinese herb, moxa, in the form of a compressed cigar-like pole, is lit to warm a small area of the body. For the purpose of turning a breech baby the moxa pole is hovered over an acupoint, BL67, on the lower corner of the little toenail.  That particular point is known for its descending action and ability to stimulate the uterus. The moxa has a warming and activating effect that promotes the function of the point.  Holding the pole 2-3cm from the point for 15 minutes one each little toe encourages the baby to be more active and descend into the proper position.  It is very common for moms-to-be to report increased movement during and after the treatment. 

Moxibustion is most successful in turning a breech baby if it begins between week 34-36 when the baby still has space to move freely.  When a woman comes to me for a moxibustion treatment I demonstrate the treatment as well as administer an acupuncture to help relax the mind and body, particularly the pelvis, to assist the work of moxibustion.  After the treatment I instruct my patients to do moxibustion on themselves or enlist the help of a partner for 15-20 minutes on each foot, daily for 10 days.  As you can imagine at this point in your pregnancy getting some assistance will make this process far more comfortable and relaxing.  For that reason I encourage all of my new patients to bring their partner to learn how to perform the treatment.  I recommend during this before bed because lying horizontal after the treatment allows optimal space for the baby to move.  

At a time that can be very stressful, moxibustion offers a safe and effective solution with the added bonus of promoting relaxation and empowering partners to be actively involved in the care of mom and baby.  

If this sounds like something you’d like to try to turn your baby naturally, don’t hesitate to request more information at or email me at