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Does baby seem stuck at the top of the pelvis? Would you like to start over? The Open-knee chest helps back the baby out of the pelvic brim and start again in a better position.
- In pregnancy? Only for breech babies!
- In Labor? Only for jammed babies in labor, not for babies still floating!
(Photo: Penny Simkin, PT, teaches us Open-Knee Chest)
Sometimes a posterior or asynclitic baby is jammed in the brim of the pelvis stalling progress. Penny Simkin, physical therapist, childbirth educator and doula, teaches us the Open Knee-Chest correctly.
Penny asks, "Wouldn't it be nice to back the baby up and start over?"
What is the Open Knee-Chest position for Labor?
The Open knee-chest position is a maternal position. It is not about making the knees wide apart.
Open knee-chest is an inversion (person's bottom is higher than their head) which opens the angle of the symphysis away from the spine, making the entrance to the pelvis larger front to back. Lovely. Contractions can then rotate the baby.
When to do an Open Knee-Chest
Open knee-chest can be used in
- Pregnancy to help reposition a breech presenting baby, and in
- Labor to help reposition a head down baby whose head is inadvertantly locked in the brim or midpelvis.
In Pregnancy, this position was used to help breeches flip to become head down. It worked fairly well. See details below.
In Labor, its used with contractions that are strong and rather close. The birthing mother is working hard and it seems that the baby just can't rotate and can't descend.
The indications may be
- Back labor without progress
- Strong contractions without progress, even without back labor
- Pain in the pelvic girdle (so it could be hip pain or one-sided pain) in labor
- No pain but no progress either yet there are regular contractions. They may be strong but they aren't getting stronger and closer together.
- A known posterior or asynclitic position without progress
- Baby stuck in the brim, the pelvic inlet
- Baby stuck at the ischial spines, the mid pelvis.
When not to do an Open Knee-Chest:
:Don't do Open Knee-Chest when the head down baby is NOT engaged and floating!
Don't do inversions for women at risk of stroke, who have high blood pressure which warrants medical supervision.
How to do the Open Knee-Chest position
There is a level of commitment to make this technique work. The birthing woman should be told that this is an effective position but requires she be in this position for about 40 minutes (sometimes less). This allows the spaces between the contractions to let the baby back up about 1 centimeter and let's the contractions have a chance to rotate the baby to a better position.
This is why the mother is in this position through and between contractions.
The mother gets into the Open-knee chest for 40 minutes during active labor
To make it easier, a helper can sit in front of the mother so she can brace her shoulders on the helpers ankles!
Some doulas and midwives suggest the Open Knee Chest for a stall in a labor for which the baby is high. Ask your care provider if there is any reason you wouldn't want to be upside down in the inversion or Open Knee Chest, such as abundant amniotic fluid and a loose abdominal tone which could risk a baby flipping breech. Uterine contractions will help prevent such a flip, and help the baby rotate to a left occiput transverse (left occiput lateral for UK, Aus, and NZ readers) position. The baby can then tuck his or her chin (flex, flexion) and engage more easily.
The Open Knee Chest means the knees are away from your pubic bone.
The "Open" doesn't mean that your knees are far apart. They are simply hip width apart.
"Open" means there is a wider distance from your spine to your pubic bone! Your knees are as far apart as your shoulders are, so not very far apart. In this photo, Physical Therapist and DONA founding mother, Penny Simkin shows us the correct way to do the Open Knee Chest position.
You can use a Rebozo like reigns around the mother's THIGHS to support her weight while she rests in this position and lets the baby reposition. The rebozo is NOT on the abdomen or the baby. It is wrapped on the thighs to hold some of mom's weight. (Right.)
Before doing an Open knee-chest:
Is baby engaged? Do engagement actvities first.
Balance before Gravity- do the sidelying release!
During an Open knee-chest:
To potentially reduce the time it may take to reposition baby,
"Shake the Apple Tree," a traditional technique from Central American Midwives.
Next, after doing the Open knee-chest:
Follow this challenging inversion by a shower, perhaps, bending the knees and leaning forward, resting the arms on the wall of the shower. Or,
lean and rest your upper body on a dresser while your knees are slightly bent and you can sway your hips to relax your muscles.
A co-venture video experience with Spinning Babies and Blooma Yoga! Coming Soon!
Spinning Babies; Daily Essentials For Pregnancy Video.
Together Sarah Longacre, international prenatal yoga instructor and birth doula, and Gail Tully, yours truly, created a unique instructional video for flexibility and comfort in pregnancy and to support better fetal positioning in time for birth.
Here are daily activities for stretching and balancing a pregnant body. Start early in pregnancy to prepare to make the most space for baby's best birth position and the most ease for mother's opening during the birth process.
We begin the program for women of average flexibility (or just plain stiff to start with) and beginner tips. But soon, you'll be ready to move freely! That's when Sarah brings the stretches all together into her easy to follow, playful, sensual, and flowing "Blooma Style" daily routine.
Sarah's "dance of opening," moves joints and ligaments to come alive under the delightful melody and percussions of Carin Vagle. This isn't about core strength; its about freedom of movement and creating space in the body.
Sarah plays along with Gail's little game of "Flashlight" to show pregnant women how to evaluate their own posture and positions. Smart Maternal Positioning helps baby snuggle their backs into the front of the womb for Optimal Fetal Positioning.
The Daily Essentials For Pregnancy includes tips for using Maternal Positioning around the house. Actual scenes in the bedroom, living room -and even the bathroom- gives practical instruction like no other video. You will be sleeping more comfortably immediately when using these tips. Within a week or two many pregnancy discomforts of the pelvis and lower back may be reduced when all these nurturing techniques are integrated into your daily lifestyle. Spinning Babies and Blooma Yoga-- a natural collaborative!
Spinning Babies Childbirth Preparation Class.
Soon pregnant parents around the world can take a Spinning Babies class from their own monitor! Join six couples as they learn the reason why Spinning Babies works and how it can enhance your labor and birth.
See techniques to do daily or weekly. Actual, real consultations with two couples right at our class location, one with a breech baby (head up) and one with a baby in a transverse lie (lying sideways).
Couples do the techniques together and show you how to do these at home.
Used alone or with the Daily Essentials, Spinning Babies Childbirth Preparation Class goes beyond the basics. Simple props show complex concepts sweetly. Little-known anatomy is linked to childbirth and the role of fetal positioning.
The section on labor discusses two labor patterns- the one "promised" in other books and the unexpected one associated with the posterior labor. Learn the common causes of long labor and techniques to help baby through the pelvis.
Be empowered; be prepared. After using this video throughout your pregnancy, while we can't promise, of course, you may not need the tips for labor progress. You can use that knowledge to help your neighbor. This video is all Spinning Babies.
Blooma Yoga Prenatal Yoga for AM and PM.
Warm up in the morning and cool down in the evening in two 30-minute sequences. Sarah Longacre shares her own blossoming pregnancy, Blooma style, to the exquisite music of Carin Vagle. Sarah's affirmations will carry you through labor with emotional strength and encouragement. Play this video when the others become too basic and you just want to dance and have fun. Wait, dance? Isn't this yoga? With Blooma and Carin Vagle, your spirit won't know the difference. Soar to greater freedom of movement. Bring your hormones into harmony with the day. Begin your day with serious play. Cool down at night with a sleep enhancing stretch before bed. This video is all Blooma!
Sarah's video is ready for you now! Get Blooma's AM/PM Yoga here
All three videos are professionally produced by Melissa Koch of Grey Duck Productions, with stills by Tanya Villano Photography, each of these three videos are dynamic on their own. Together they will enhance your pregnancy and labor experience with fun and empowerment in the most practical manner. Feel hope for your birth abilities, this is support for your journey. Gain the confidence and flexibility to fully bloom. I believe these videos carry the potential to bring your best birth dreams into the gentle reality.
Compassionately priced. Estimated Due Date for Daily Essentials March 2014; for Spinning Babies Parent Class, Fall 2014.