The Three Principles of Spinning Babies are: Balance, Gravity and Movement! These will help you prepare for, and progress through, childbirth.
You can begin activities to add balance in early pregnancy, even before pregnancy, even now!
The goals of our 3 Principles of Spinning Babies are:
- Help the baby’s chin tuck to get a smaller head circumference
- Help baby rotate themselves so their head is coming down from an optimal angle
- Open the pelvis wider with mother’s own positions
- Help make the most room for baby to descend – whether in the ideal position or not
- To reduce the times medical intervention is necessary and let baby make these changes themselves in the room the mother has accomplished with these techniques and others
Using balance, posture and movement in pregnancy enhance baby’s starting position for labor. Being more balanced, aligned, and flexible will help your uterus reposition the baby with pre-labor and early labor surges (contractions).
Most babies get themselves into the positions that fit through the pelvis. But up to a third of babies may need help to do so. Labor contractions will help most of these babies rotate. But up to a third of these will need the doctor to finish the birth. That help often doesn’t come until labor has been long and challenging. My idea is to increase birth ability and confidence for both parents and providers!
I believe most mothers and babies will benefit from improved pelvic balance.
An aligned pelvis may make labor easier. We want to help baby into that ideal or optimal position. If we can help the baby into a position in which the baby has the smallest head diameter and has the strongest and most flexible use of their spine we can save the mother and baby some work in labor. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Discomfort is a symptom of an imbalance. To balance the uterus we need to either relax chronic tension in the ligaments or muscles, or to support the abdomen when muscles are too lax. Relaxing in this sense does not mean deep breathing or conscious relaxation. Rather, we need to relax possible spasms in the muscles and ligaments of the reproductive organs and the connections to the joints of the pelvis. Relaxation in this way improves abdominal and pelvic floor tone.
Once the womb and the surrounding supportive structures are toned and symmetrical, a mother can find improved success from good maternal postures.
For balance, try these activities:
- Forward-leaning inversion
- Belly dancing
- Pelvic floor release
- Psoas release (or resolution)
- Yoga or physical therapy techniques
- Standing sacral release
- Abdominal Release (Diaphragmatic release)
- Chiropractic, Craniosacral, myofascial techniques and care
The womb is anchored in place by ligaments, like ropes to a hot air balloon. Helping your womb be symmetrical can help the baby be symmetrical–in other words, in a vertical position (vertical lie) with the chin tucked to the chest. This makes the baby come out in the smallest diameter possible.
What if a woman’s abdomen is already relaxed?
Once a woman has a baby or two, or six, relaxation is rarely a problem. She may be too loose. Supporting her belly with a pregnancy belt can substitute for any missing tone in the abdominal muscles.
A good pregnancy belt supports the baby’s angle into the pelvis. The belt adds a slope to help the baby to aim and later, rotate into a good starting position for labor.
Some women may have to wear the pregnancy belt through labor and pushing to keep the baby in a safe position. That’s not that common, but just so everyone knows, there are no absolute statements in birth – except one, “The baby always comes out!”
Whether you are too tight or too loose, balancing the uterus should be the first activity each day, helping you towards optimal fetal positioning. Relax any muscle spasms or support loose abdominal muscles and uterine ligaments to set the tone of the abdomen.
Discomfort in pregnancy, a previous labor longer than 24-48 hours, and/or a fetal malposition are signs a woman’s body has come out of balance. It’s not unusual. See what to do in pregnancy to learn what you can do at home and with the help of professionals to get your body into balance.
If we attend to the first principle of Balance, the next one, Gravity, works even better in labor.
Our posture and muscle tension affect uterine ligaments and tone. The effect comes from habit. Uneven postures used habitually over time can tilt the womb and tighten uterine and cervical ligaments on one side, twisting the uterus. After years of such a habit, simply sitting and standing properly for a few weeks may not correct fetal malposition.
Active women who walk, swim or do yoga may have overcome many of the bad effects of growing up sitting in school desks or slouching on the couch.
Gravity works 24/7. Standing and walking are examples of movement and gravity work together to settle baby head down. A woman’s ability to walk upright helps her baby settle head down. Even from 10 weeks, and on through the 2nd trimester, even before baby is expected to be head down, a pregnant woman’s habits can influence how easily, or not, her baby can become head down.
A baby’s head is the heaviest part of its body, and the upper back is second. As a result, in normal circumstances, baby will settle in a head down position. However, sometimes tension or twists in the uterine muscle occur or the pelvis gets “out of alignment.” These are a couple reasons that a baby couldn’t settle head down.
In the last month of pregnancy, the growing baby slides lower in the softening womb. Baby’s weight bends baby’s neck as the back settles lower. This tucks the baby’s chin. Help your baby tuck his or her chin by relaxing the pelvic area and keeping it flexible. See daily and weekly activities, as well as our section on resting smart and posture, to learn more about how to use gravity to promote optimal fetal positioning.
The pelvis opens better when it has been kept mobile and symmetrical. There are four pelvis joints, two connecting the hips to the sacrum, one in front and the tailbone. The sacrum itself has flexibility, as long as we don’t sit or lay on it in labor and pushing.
Gravity works best with movement. Water helps movement. If marbles are stuck in a jar, then filling the jar with water and jiggling it gently is likely to free the block. So, some women will spend a lot of time swimming, belly down, in water that they can relax in while they move. Other women will request that their amniotic sac, or bag of water, not be broken by the doctor or midwife in labor. This will help the baby rotate her head more easily during birth.
Throughout pregnancy movement and exercise helps improve muscle tone to help with engagement and helps the pelvic joints stretch and relax, which will help descent once labor begins. In labor, movement helps the baby descend through the pelvis. Check out daily and weekly activities to learn more about which movements can optimize fetal position.
Swaying in large circles while sitting on a birthing ball is one way to help the head slip into the pelvis. There are also several pelvic balancing exercises you can do to stabilize your pelvis, if necessary, which will help make your pelvic ligaments more balanced. You can visit the pages under “Learn More” and “Techniques” on the main menu to dive deeper.
When might these activities not work?
Habits of poor posture and chronic tension affect the balance (symmetry, abdominal tone and the state of tension or relaxation) over time. The uterus works most effectively when the abdominal ligaments, muscles and fascia (a strong coating of membrane around all the organs, are in balance.
When we have had a habit for years, sitting and standing properly for a few weeks is not likely to correct the effects.
Sitting in bucket seats in cars, couches or lying improperly while on bed rest can tilt the womb. A tight ligament can pull the uterus to the front, back or side. Tightening can twist the uterine ligaments supporting uterine placement.
Please don’t sit on a cushion or pillow in the car. You need the “bucket seat” to protect you when you stop fast.
You can sit on a slightly inflated ball (100-200 cc of air in a ball that normally holds over a liter). Sit carefully on the physical therapy ball. Place it between your sitz bones (tuberosities) and yet doesn’t raise you off the seat. Sit neither too far forward nor too far back on this ball. This slight, mobile cushion will help you keep your spine mobile, but still allows the seat to hold you back in a common quick stop driving situation.
Active women who walk, swim or did regular yoga may have overcome many of the bad effects of growing up sitting in school desks or slouching on the couch.
The sacrum can also become twisted a little sideways or wrinkled like a throw rug from riding in a car or crossing our legs. These common issues can prevent a baby from getting into an ideal position.
Professional help may make all the difference. Professional helpers vary as do womens’ body’s needs. Find the person right for you to get body work from.
What if this is too much and I feel overwhelmed?
We are all doing the best we can, with what we know at the time and to the point that we can cope with. A year from now, I want you to be satisfied you did the amount of preparation you are satisfied with. Not every challenge with fetal position can be overcome, but many can!
Go to Daily Activities to learn more about what you can do during pregnancy to add balance.