Sunday, April 7, 2013

36 weeks and moxa

I've been a little scarce.  I apologize.  Easter has a tendency to do that to us clergy types.  Add in pregnancy, toddler, best friend's wedding in New York, attempting to sweep and mop on some kind of regular basis, asking my dog to stop shedding so much godforsaken hair everywhere, and a winter that just wouldn't stop . . . and blogging kind of seemed unattractive?  But I'm back.  And I want to tell you about moxa sticks.  First, though:  pictures.

Here's a little side-by-side for you of 36 weeks with Vicki (on the left), and Todd (right). He is still a good deal higher than she was, and I don't feel nearly as miserable.  Plus, you get the bonus puppy AND baby photobomb in the more recent picture!  I am way less swollen than I was at this point with Vicki, not having the backaches and shoulderaches that I did with her, and I just generally feel better.

Okay, back to the moxa.  See, I went for my 34-week appointment with Bobbi, one of our midwives, and she shocked me.  First of all, my blood pressure was up (ugh).  That wasn't really so shocking.  I think the culprit is something I can't do a lot about:  stress.  I'm trying a few new things, including acupuncture, chiropractic, and more magnesium in the form of Epsom salt baths.

Bobbi also closed her eyes and used her hands to manipulate my belly, making a visual map of where she thought the baby was located.  She felt and felt, and then opened her eyes and said, "Yep - baby is breech." What?!  But I had been feeling that firm little bottom just below my right ribs for weeks!  Turns out the firm boulder-ish lump is really a skull.

Now, at 34 weeks, this was really not a huge concern.  Babies flip all the time.  He could flip right-side down, then flip back up again!  But it's something I want to work on while there is still a good amount of room for movement in the uterus.

My midwives will not deliver a baby that they know to be breech.  Sometimes it happens by surprise, and they go with it.  But I will have to find other care if Todd persists in this position - something I'd really rather not do at this point!

I decided to try acupuncture and chiropractic.  I was able to book an appointment at our community acupuncture clinic (sidenote:  how awesome is it that we have a community acupuncture clinic half a mile from our house that charges $15 per appointment!?) first.  I went in, described my issues (high blood pressure and a breech baby), and Alexa said, "Oh, the 34th week is perfect!  We are going to do some moxa."  It turns out there is a very specialized Chinese Traditional Medicine technique for breech babies.  Here is what she did:  she took two little things that looked like earplugs, and lit one end of them with a lighter until they burned brightly like coals.  The other end was adhesive.  She stuck them on my pinky toes, just below the base of the toenail.  She said to tell her if they became uncomfortably hot.  She also did some "regular" acupuncture with needles in my arms, shins, and feet.  Then she reclined my chair and left me to rest.

I immediately felt the baby become very active.  He kicked and pulled, and I felt his head turning to my right side, almost totally transverse.  He didn't flip all the way (I don't think), but he was certainly trying!

Alexa also sent me home with my very own moxa stick, instructing me to use it every night for ten minutes until I felt the baby turn.  The one she sent with me was different from the little plugs she had used.  My moxa stick is like a thick incense stick - the size of one of those big "first crayons."  It's actually a cigar made of mugwort herb.  I have to light it with our oil lamp because it takes so long to glow.  A lighter would burn me. Then, I sit down and hold it near the base of my pinky toenail, switching sides when it becomes too hot to withstand.  I go back and forth for ten minutes.  Every time, I feel the baby becoming very active again.

After I do my moxibustion each night, I feel very calm and peaceful.  In the same way, going to the acupuncture clinic is just a very calming experience.  It is a large room full of recliners, with people sleeping or reading as they rest and take their treatment - no loud talking, no phone conversations.  Just little murmurs between the acupuncturists and patients, and occasionally a snore.  It is dim, and they have lovely herbal tea you can sip from small ceramic teacups.  Just spending half an hour there, regardless of what they do with the needles, feels really good.  I've decided to go twice a week through the end of pregnancy.

Like I said, no big flip yet . . . but we still have time!  I went to the chiropractor a couple of weeks ago too, but I will save her techniques for another post.

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