In this month’s update:
- Spinning Babies® founder Gail Tully ties in one of our most effective labor techniques with the nativity story 🌟
- Learn how to obtain trust and calmness from the birth giver while using the Shake The Apple Tree 🍎 technique
- Watch video testimonies 🙌 from Spinning Babies® Certified Parent Educator Training participants
- See upcoming events including just added workshops in the United States, Estonia, and Australia
She Shook the Palm Tree
December reminds me of the Nativity story. The need to do things differently, even birth, is inherent with a change in paradigm. Whether or not you celebrate the Nativity of Jesus, the story is exciting. I got more excited to share with you when I read the Koran account of this story, which touches upon one of our most effective labor techniques! See how I spin the Nativity, the date palm, and comfort in birthing on the Spinning Babies® blog.
Mary and Jesus under the Date Palm
I love the plot tension of the traveling parents, pregnant and in labor with Jesus, arriving in Bethlehem to find “no room at the inn.” While having no prepared place for birth may seem unfortunate, Mary’s circumstances lead to a birth with extreme autonomy.
Historical Accounts Include Actions That Activate Fascia
In current Christian tradition, Mary rides a donkey a long distance until labor is too strong for her to continue. I’ve written in past December newsletters about the jiggle into position Jesus may have experienced during this ride! Early Christian texts and the Koran reveal fascia-nating details about this journey.
In these versions of the story, there is no inn. Rather, these texts relay Mary’s request for a secluded place to birth, noting the very real danger for unmarried pregnant women in her society. (The Protevangelium of James, or Gospel of Pseudo-James, includes passages omitted from the Gospel text approved by the Gelasian Decree of the Council of Rome.) The early Christian/pre-Islamic Apocrypha story mirrors the Greek story of Leto, pregnant by Zeus. People feared the revenge of Zeus’s wife Hera and would not provide a place for Leto to give birth. Leto finally gives birth to the twins Artemis and Apollo under a palm tree on an island.
The Holy Koran (Qur’an) includes several details about the birth of “Isa,” or Jesus. WikiIslam records that “Quranic verse 19:22-26 is a clear parallel of the account found in the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew [in the Apocrypha]”:
Then she conceived him; and withdrew with him to a remote place. And the throes of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree. She said: Oh, would that I had died before this, and had been a thing quite forgotten! So a voice came to her from beneath her: Grieve not, surely thy Lord has provided a stream beneath thee. And shake towards thee the trunk of the palm-tree, it will drop on thee fresh ripe dates. So eat and drink and cool the eye. . . .
Maryam shakes the Palm Tree
Food as Medicine and a Bit of Body Balancing!
Rebecca Dekker of Evidence Based Birth reports that randomized trials show benefits from eating date fruit in late pregnancy. About 60–80 grams a day of date may increase cervical ripening, reducing the need for a medical labor induction or augmentation. The research also points toward a positive effect on postpartum blood loss. The second delight to this story is the recommendation of giving the tree a shake to free the fruit. We’ll shake out the benefit of shaking to body balancing in a few paragraphs, but for now, let’s get back to the story.
“And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree…” —The Koran. Translation by Yusef Ali
Holding a Baby to Support an Era of Compassion
Mary presumably brought the baby to her breast for skin-to-skin contact, for warmth, and perhaps because of a lack of a cradle in her travel supplies. The presence of a palm tree doesn’t preclude the presence of a stable; both can be in easy proximity. Fascial integrity, or balanced tensegrity, is a theme at Spinning Babies®; and skin-to-skin contact is a benefit of easier childbirth. The Nativity story records the use of both in the birth of a person who changed a paradigm. Research in fascia, the vagal nerve complex, and skin-to-skin contact supports their value in human health and social connection.
Specifically, skin-to-skin contact enhances the hormones of security and trust. The baby Jesus’s neural pathways were thus set to support social competency, innovation, humility, and confidence, characteristics all supportive of a new paradigm of thought. Perhaps the absence of women to take the baby “so Mary could rest” allowed Jesus an added physiological benefit for envisioning the new era. One might argue that Joseph could have held the baby, and that is possible, but I present this story with Mary holding her baby immediately after birth.
Birthing Outside the Box
Creating room for a new paradigm may benefit from, even require, a profound experience outside the social norms—in this case, not only an out-of-hospital birth (as all births were in those days) but also a birth outside the community social customs. These seemingly primal conditions may strengthen the mother-baby bond through the proximity of heartbeats.
Shake It Loose
Fascia is the connective tissue, the dynamic web that supports the muscles, ligaments, and bones. Fascia membrane therefore wraps the uterus and forms the uterine ligaments, entwines with the pelvic floor muscles, and lines the pelvis.
New understanding of the fascia may add another depth of meaning to the story of the date palm. The physical vibration of shaking or jiggling seems to smooth the fascia and free it from resistance and restriction. The body functions optimally. By activating receptors with gentle shaking and bodywork techniques, we give fascia the potential to make more anatomical room in our bodies.
Fascia holds the effects of our load bearing in gravity. Fascia research hints that the fascia is the holder of memories. With gentle stretches and gentle jiggling, we clear the fascia from the strains of living in gravity and society. All this, and more, builds my assertion that ease in birth begins in the fascia.
The Body That Hoards
Physical and emotional experiences—from muscle contractions involved with posture and movement habits, to injuries, to cringing in fright or startling—put tension on the fibroblasts and other cells in the fascia. Collagen is laid down in the areas of the body corresponding to the strain. Emotional trauma releases chemicals into the body. Sensors on the cell membranes called microtubules build up polymers called tubulins, which may store memories. In this way, movement and emotion may determine the load of the memories we bear. Sitting for great periods of time, therefore, may literally leave us sitting in the past. Memories are layered with thought and emotion and seem to be stored in and outside of our nervous system, from brain to body in a “particular connective tissue architecture” (Bordoni 2019).
A deep, uncovered memory creates physical evidence felt in the fascia. We get rigid or send pain signals through the body due to the inflammation that literally changes the connections in our bodies. Growing up in any culture sets modeled patterns directly into our bodies. Our connective tissue is freed or thickened by how we live. Resiliency or resistance seems to begin in our fascia.
Resistance Can Be Overcome by Motion
Thick fascia becomes more fluid as it responds to a slow stretch, jiggling, or the creation of physical waves as in the Fasciatherapy Danis Bois Method (Note: This link causes a PDF download). The medium suspending the fibrils and other cell structures in the fascia returns back to a more fluid solution from a firmer gel state. Imagine again the unexpected benefit of a donkey ride or shaking a tree as childbirth preparation.
Fluidity reduces the pain of stress and perhaps releases the feeling of being stuck as polymers return to their base molecule structures. The “buildup” of memory and habit begins to reorient to a simpler yet profound pattern for resilient living.
As we experience our body without the pull of chronic misalignment or thicknesses, we reset the “how” in how we experience life.
In the ’80s and ’90s, North American midwife pioneer Ina May Gaskin explained a Central American tradition of grasping the buttocks or thighs of a tense laboring woman and firmly but gently shaking for a time. She used the description of shaking an apple tree to get the apples to fall as an illustration for US audiences. She attributed the sudden labor progress common to this technique to the comfort and relaxation resulting from this motion. Fascia wasn’t common knowledge in the midwife world at that time, but of course, the benefits of relaxation were known. As a doula, midwife, and doula trainer, I’ve always had “Shaking the Apple Tree” as a part of my repertoire. But “Shaking the Date Palm” might be a more historical birth reference!
New Nativities Are Possible
History can be healed through the collaborative movement of humanity. Being the nurturing mother of our self is being the mother of our cells. Self-care is cell care. The child in us can be heard, healed, and released to emerge in free expression.
As the year ends and a new year dawns, feel the possibility that we, too, can begin anew. The original pattern is within, waiting for you to “shake a leg!”
Whether you’re rebirthing yourself as a parent or renewing your passion as a professional, your ever-emerging spirit allows you the fluid potential of moving in any direction you choose.
Thank you for rotating through my mind with me, from the Nativity story to developing new paradigms by releasing the fascia from the gravitational weight of societal constructs to the enjoyment of trees. For those of you reading this far, a hug and a shake! You are loved. – Gail Tully
*References can be found at the end of this post.
To “Shake the Date Palm,” begin slow with a reassuring hand. Be conscious. That means starting with a calm and kind explanation of what you want to do and why. Don’t reach and grab the birthing person’s body quickly.
Begin with a thigh by holding the thigh with two hands and softening your palms while keeping the bones in your hands and fingers around their flesh. Take a breath. Only now begin a slow and tiny jiggle. It’s not really a shake, is it? It’s like jiggling your iced coffee without spilling it, just warmer! We seek to elicit trust and calm.
Feel for the leg to wiggle more and more easily even though you haven’t begun to shake more vigorously. That’s the fascia responding. Your actions are merging with their body to make ripples in the pond. Ripples that spread from under their skin to their muscles. Ripples gently jiggling through their thigh muscles and up to their hip and buttocks. Get into a comfy position and shake for about 3 minutes before speeding up. Speeding up and adding a bit more vigor can still be sensitive and intuitive. Continue at this rate for another 3–10 minutes as practical. When you tire, carefully show another person on the birth team how to continue respectfully.
From workshop participants:
“I am a student midwife and L&D RN. One night, I was caring for a young primiparous woman who had been stuck at 6 cm for hours. The OB determined that the baby was asynclitic and that a C-section may be in her future. I googled Spinning Babies®, got her up on her knees leaning on the back of the bed (with an epidural!) and shook her hips with a folded hospital sheet. Two hours later, she had a vaginal delivery of a nearly 9-pound healthy baby boy! Success!” — Chrisann JP
Bonus Pregnancy Tip
A date a day in late pregnancy is a traditional nutritional recommendation. Try a date shake!
Parent Educator Training Testimonies
Hear what recent Spinning Babies® Certified Parent Educator Training participants said about why the SpBCPE training was great for them:
“I cannot say enough about the program, the communication, the support that I received.”
Make pregnancy and birth easier by becoming certified to teach Spinning Babies® to expecting parents as a stand-alone workshop or as part of their existing childbirth class. Join us for a 2020 Spinning Babies® Certified Parent Educator Training in the following locations:
- Rishon LeZion, Israel – May 18-21
- Austin, Texas, USA – May 13-16
- Schladming, Austria – June 2-5
- Boston, Massachusetts, USA – July 28-31
- Caloundra, Australia – October 20-23
Meet the instructors for the 2020 Austria training below and join us for an all-inclusive (lodging and food) four-day training!
We are excited to offer this two-day workshop of birthing wisdom in magical Morocco. So buy yourself a cheap air ticket from Europe and treat yourself to mini education vacation! Register today!
Spinning Babies® Aware Practitioner Workshop & Alternative Pathways
Our Feb 2020 Spinning Babies® Aware Practitioner Workshop is sold out. New dates for a summer 2020 workshop in San Diego are being finalized. Stay tuned for the announcement! Or, consider one of the wonderful workshops approved as alternative pathways for Spinning Babies® Aware Practitioners.
Approved alternative pathways for bodyworkers to become Spinning Babies® Aware Practitioners
Integral Touch of Birth
Northern Lights Wellness Professional Education’s Integral Touch of Birth workshop is being offered in Duluth, MN March 4-7 2020! These 4-days of advanced education for bodyworkers are transformative. Take your pregnancy care skills to another level!
Dynamic Body Balancing
All Upcoming Events
7 – Atlanta, GA – Spinning Babies® Workshop w/ Tammy Ryan – SOLD OUT
8 – Atlanta, GA – Spinning Babies® Workshop w/ Tammy Ryan – SOLD OUT
9-10 – Salvador, BA/Brazil – Oficina Spinning Babies® 2 dias com Maira Libertad – SOLD OUT
14 – Kerrville, TX – Spinning Babies® Workshop w/ Tammy Ryan – SOLD OUT
14-15 – Budapest, Hungary – Spinning Babies® with Jennifer Walker – SOLD OUT
13 – Duluth, MN – Spinning Babies® Workshop w/ Nikki Zerfas – SOLD OUT
18 – Washington DC – Spinning Babies® Workshop w/ Rhea Williams – SOLD OUT
21 – Davis, CA – Spinning Babies® Workshop w/ Nikki Zerfas – SOLD OUT
23 – Las Vegas, NV – Spinning Babies® Workshop w/ Nikki Zerfas – SOLD OUT
24 – Jackson, MS – Spinning Babies® Workshop w/ Tammy Ryan – SOLD OUT
25-26 – Recife, PE/Brazil – Oficina Spinning Babies® 2 dias com Maíra Libertad – SOLD OUT
8 – Eustis, FL – Spinning Babies® Workshop w/ Tammy Ryan – SOLD OUT
14 – Liberty, OH – Spinning Babies® Workshop w/ Rhea Williams – SOLD OUT
10 – Westerville, OH – Spinning Babies® Workshop w/ Tammy Ryan – SOLD OUT
See all upcoming events on our calendar here.
Bordoni, B., Simonelli, M., & Morabito, B. (2019). The other side of the fascia: The smooth muscle part 1. Cureus, 11(5). doi: 10.7759/cureus.4651
Bordoni, B., & Simonelli, M. (2018). The awareness of the fascial system. Cureus, 10(10). doi: 10.7759/cureus.3397
Derkacz, A., Gawrys, J., Gawrys, K., Podgorski, M., Magott-Derkacz, A., Poreba, R., & Doroszko, A. (2018). Effect of electromagnetic field accompanying the magnetic resonance imaging on human heart rate variability–a pilot study. International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, 25(2), 229–231.
Guimberteau, J.-C. (2005). Strolling under the skin [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.guimberteau-jc-md.com/en/videos.php
Guimberteau, J.-C. Dr. Jean-Claude Guimberteau, M.D. [Video collection]. https://www.guimberteau-jc-md.com/en/videos.php
Harris, L. (2018). If a homeless woman gives birth in a U.S. hospital, do social services take the baby? [Quora answer]. Answer posted to https://www.quora.com/If-a-homeless-woman-gives-birth-in-a-U-S-hospital-do-social-services-take-the-baby
Schleip, R. (2003). Fascial plasticity–a new neurobiological explanation: Part 1. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 7(1), 11–19.
Stevens, J., Schmied, V., Burns, E., & Dahlen, H. G. (2019). Skin-to-skin contact and what women want in the first hours after a caesarean section. Midwifery, 74, 140–146.
Tozzi, P. (2014). Does fascia hold memories? Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 18, 259–265.
Vittner, D., Butler, S., Smith, K., Makris, N., Samra, H., & McGrath, J. (2019). Skin-to-skin contact activates oxytocin release and correlates to parent engagement. Developmental Observer, 12(1), 12.
Widström, A. M., Brimdyr, K., Svensson, K., Cadwell, K., & Nissen, E. (2020). A plausible pathway of imprinted behaviors: Skin-to-skin actions of the newborn immediately after birth follow the order of fetal development and intrauterine training of movements. Medical Hypotheses, 134, 109432.
WikiIslam. (n.d.) Parallelism: Mary, Jesus and the palm tree. Retrieved November 25, 2019. https://wikiislam.net/wiki/Parallelism:_Mary,_Jesus_and_the_Palm_Tree