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Alternative Inversions

Spinning Babies® is relatively new to the birth scene and the concepts we present are also new. We are learning what are appropriate techniques and how to do them. This month we discuss safety and use of one of our favorite techniques: the Forward-leaning Inversion. It is an amazing technique designed by Dr. Carol Phillips, DC. You can see more about her and the FLI on our site.

Aerial Yoga swing

It’s doubtful anyone in the photo above is actually in late pregnancy but this is the closest image I could find to best describe to you that I could find on Google image search. If you have a clear and shareable photo of an inversion in pregnancy, using a yoga swing or ropes, and would like to share it on our website, please send it (and add your pregnancy related-link if you have one) to

Tammy Ryan helping a Forward-Leaning Inversion

Forward-Leaning Inversion Tips and Tricks


Yoga Classroom Inversion

If you don’t have a large ottoman or couch in your yoga studio lounge (not everyone does) or a bench for changing in and out of shoes, you may find it challenging to do a Forward-Leaning Inversion during yoga classes.

The yoga ropes bolted securely into the wall are a good option. Hanging just a few minutes is lovely and relaxing for many of us. How long is long enough? Answers vary with yoga trainers. It seems 5 minutes is OK for healthy people, longer if baby is breech, shorter is OK, too.

Marcela in open-knee chest. note cloth is not in groin

Open-Knee Chest for Inversions?

Many providers and doulas suggest a Knee-Chest position or an Open-Knee Chest position for inversions. These both use gravity but only the Open-Knee Chest position opens the top of the pelvis more from the front to the back. Open-Knee Chest is used for allowing the baby to back up and turn. This can be desirable in a labor that is not progressing.

I do not recommend Open-Knee Chest for a head down baby in pregnancy, just in labor.

Many people demonstrate the closed Knee-Chest position but call it by the other positions name (Open-Knee Chest). Having the knees apart is not what Open-Knee means. Open-Knee means the knees are away from the spine, so the hips are closer to the person’s head than their knees. In Knee-Chest position, the knees are closer to the abdomen than the hips or they are directly under the hips. How far apart the knees are is a matter of comfort and not particularly important. That being said, there are details with foot positions in relation to the femur, but that is for another monthly update.

The Forward-Leaning Inversion offers more benefits and is faster than either of the above methods of inverting. Some people will prefer one and not another, some situations are helped by one and not the other. Let’s at least know that Knee-Chest is for comfort or reducing the speed of birth and is a good position to ride to the hospital if an umbilical cord is seen before the baby’s head is born (in a head down baby).


Breech Tilt

Breech Tilt from Daily Essentials by Tanya Villano Photography

A Breech Tilt is an Inversion done to flip a breech baby to head down. Babies that are oblique or diagonal and who are sideways in the womb after 30 weeks gestation may also be helped by this position. I highly recommend the Three Sisters of Balance first, including the Forward-Leaning Inversion being done immediately before the Breech Tilt. It is not recommended to do the Breech Tilt if baby is head down unless Sidelying Release and other body balancing techniques haven’t made baby more vertical over the pelvis.

Reasons not to go upside down while pregnant:

Any medical reason not to go upside down. It’s likely that you had a conversation with your doctor about this, but double check now, please. Contraindications include:

  • After you have eaten or drank something; We don’t want it coming up!
  • High blood pressure, so don’t pop capillaries in your brain over high blood pressure; sit this one out
  • Reasons not to increase pressure in the heart or brain, such as seizures, heart conditions, aneurysms, previous strokes, or some other unusual but important condition
  • Glaucoma is on our list, but this report is reassuring that 45 seconds may not be long enough to matter. Ask your ophthalmologist.

A head down baby position is not a reason not to go upside down for 30-45 seconds a day. Your cervical ligaments may appreciate your daily balancing. Labor may be easier.

Labor is not a reason not to go upside down. Contractions help a head down baby stay down. See how to use the Forward-Leaning Inversion.


Alternative Inversions

Email Question:

“I am a yoga instructor and I have used your methods, in particularly the forward-leaning inversion, to help many moms turn their breech bbs vertex. I have a question – will the inversion in yoga like handstand, headstand and shoulderstand achieve the same effects? Assuming that they come to a kneeling upright position after they came down from those inverted position. Having bench or sofa is often not an option in a yoga studio. Hence I am exploring other more viable alternative to make it more accessible to more moms as part of their daily practice.”

Gail’s Response:

They will have similar but not the same effects. For one, the abdomen is engaged during head and handstands and other muscular and fascia tensions are at work. The Forward-Bend, standing, can be difficult for beginners due to a lack of suppleness in the spinal muscles, this results in the discs are pressed back and strain to the spine.

More to your point, is that the uterus doesn’t hang from the uterosacral ligaments.

A yoga swing or inversion board is more similar to Forward-Leaning Inversion.

The length of time can be limited to avoid over-stretching tendons when on an inversion board. Inversion boards are so comfortable and people may stay too long and forget that pregnancy makes cartilage in the joints softer. An inversion board is often used for several minutes longer than recommended for the Forward-leaning Inversion. Adding body balance is beneficial but using an inversion table or the Breech Tilt in pregnancy may best be done by people with breech babies or those with head down babies and special circumstances may be working that out with their body balancing professional.


What’s New with Spinning Babies®?

Our July Parent Educator Training is about to begin in St. Paul. Twenty-five Parent Educators are about to take flight in offering Spinning Babies® Parent Class to pregnant parents. We’ll then celebrate our second training with a total of 60 trained childbirth educators. We have three more scheduled, one for Portuguese speaking experienced childbirth educators in Brazil, October we are in Boston (early bird ends JULY 15) and November we are in the UK (early bird ends AUGUST 1). Then we will reassess and set more for Spring, and Fall in 2019. See more at Spinning Babies® Certified Parent Educator page.

September Celebrates Our Confluence with Sia Parto and Spinning Babies®!

We are participating in a huge event in Brazil with Midwife Ana Cris Duarte, founder of SIA Parto. All the Spinning Babies® Approved Trainers will be there. Jennifer Walker named the conference “Active Patience.” We’re gathering with humanistic birth activists, Brazilian midwives and doctors to present the 5th SIA Parto to bring Spinning Babies and physiological birth forward in Brazil. Over 1200 have registered for our main conference. Its a village of like-minded people gathering for various workshops and conference sessions from Sept. 4-9. Approved Trainer, Tammy Ryan, arrives early to begin Spinning Babies® Workshops in cities throughout Brazil, including Rio, Bela Horizonte, and Sao Paulo. Rachel Shapiro offers extra midwifery training in Brasilia. Lorenza Holt, Jennifer Walker, and I greet the first Brazilian training (in Portuguese) of Spinning Babies® Parent Educators on the 10-12. Afterward, it’s into the jungle paradise for some well-deserved relaxation.

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