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How to use Moxibustion Sticks to turn a Breech Baby

Please do not attempt the following unless you are under the supervision of a registered acupuncturist and you have permission from your doctor or midwife.


Moxa sticks are made from the leaves of a plant (Artemisia argyi) and used in traditional Chinese medicine to stimulate acupuncture points. The moxa you will most likely be given has undergone a charcoal process to produce a stick that produces less smoke, making it ideal for use at home.

Before using moxa you will need to prepare the following:

  • A cigarette lighter and a candle

  • A small ceramic or glass dish to place any ash in that may form on the moxa stick during treatment

  • A small old towel to place under the area being treated in case any ash is dropped

  • A glass screw-top jar to with a layer of rice in the bottom to extinguish the moxa when the treatment is finished

How to use the moxa stick:

  • Simply light one end of the moxa stick by holding it over a candle. With smokeless moxa it may take several minutes to light. When the stick is correctly lit, you will be able to hold the lit end two to three centimeters from the back of your hand and feel a pleasant radiating warmth. Hold the lit end of the stick over the area to be treated, maintaining a distance of at least two to three centimeters so that there is never any direct contact with the skin. The moxa stick is then moved slowly over the area being treated, this will begin to feel pleasantly warm.

  • When using to turn a breech or posterior positioned baby, the therapeutic time for moxa use is 20 minutes for each acupuncture point. During this time the moxa is briefly lifted away from the point Zhiyin BL- 67 (found on the outside corner of the nail on the little toe) each time it becomes hot, before resuming treatment (the pecking technique).

  • Suggested sitting positions

  • When treatment has finished, place the moxa stick in a glass jar lined with dry rice to prevent the heat from cracking the glass bottom. When the lid is screwed on firmly, the moxa stick is deprived of oxygen and cannot continue to burn. The moxa stick can then be re-lit for repeated treatments.

  • Some women feel an increase in the baby's activity after treatment.


  • Repeat treatment once a day for ten consecutive days. This is one course of treatment. If baby does not turn, take a few days rest and then begin another course of treatment. If baby turns before the ten days are finished, continue with treatment until all ten days are complete. Baby will more likely remain in an optimum position if the ten days are completed.

  • It is best to start treatment as early as possible once it is known that baby is breech. Best results are seen at 34-37 weeks while there is still room for baby to turn. However, I have seen babies turn last minute just before an induction is scheduled.

  • During the ten days, see your acupuncturist as often as possible. She will needle other points to help turn baby as well.

Source: "The Essential guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth" by Debra Betts © 2010

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