Turning a Breech Baby with Moxibustion

At the Sean Barkes Clinic we offer treatment to encourage your baby to turn from a breech position; the optimum time to pursue this treatment is after 34 weeks, but the treatment may be effective up to week 38 or 39. It is important to make sure your midwife or doctor is aware that you are pursuing this treatment, and you will need to refer to them for confirmation if you think that the baby has turned. Our treatment begins with a full health assessment to determine, from our Traditional Chinese Medical perspective, why the baby may not be turning to a cephalic (head down) presentation of its own accord. On the basis of this assessment, we will suggest a course of treatment. This may involve a short course of acupuncture treatments, although the main therapy is likely to involve a gentle warming of an acupuncture point on the mother’s little toe. This warming is achieved by moxibustion; a stick made of the herb artemisia vulgaris (mugwort) is lit and held while it smoulders so that it warms the acupuncture point in question. This treatment is done for twenty minutes each day for ten days; in some cases we do the treatment at the clinic; alternatively we may teach the mother or her partner or other responsible person to do the treatment at home. Please note that in some rare conditions of pregnancy, along with multiple gestation (twins, triplets etc), this treatment is contraindicated, so it is important not to try it without proper clinical supervision.

Is Moxibustion Helpful for Breech Presentation?

A recent randomised controlled trial in Spain1 found that moxibustion treatment was an effective and safe way to correct breech presentation. 406 low-risk pregnant women with the baby in breech presentation at between 33 and 35 weeks were assigned to one of three forms of treatment: moxibustion as described above, sham moxibustion (with the warmth applied to another part of the foot) and no treatment apart from usual care. At full term, 58.1% of the true moxibustion group were cephalic, compared to 43.4% in the sham moxibustion and 44.8% in the no treatment group.


1 Vas J. et al (2013) Using moxibustion in primary healthcare to correct non-vertex presentation: a multicentre randomised controlled trial. Acupunct Med. 2013 Mar;31(1):31-8


The Sean Barkes Clinic does not claim to cure any conventional medical disease states. Traditional Chinese Medicine seeks to re-establish and maintain the harmonious function of the human body-mind using tried and tested principles that have been discovered and matured over millennia. A Western medical diagnosis provides very little by way of insight in informing a Chinese Medical diagnosis. Patients usually recognise their own condition in terms of the medical disease category that they have been given by their GP or other conventional medical practitioner. The research presented here is merely an indication of the potential to draw parallels between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Modern Western Medicine.