By: Gail Tully |
2020-08-19 |


abdominal lift. Janie King’s book Back Labor no More describes this position where you lift your belly during a contraction to re-angle the baby with the pelvis. Also called the “Belly Lift”. Gail Tully adds the posterior pelvic tuck to increase the front-to-back distance at the top of the pelvis to “make room” for baby to rotate and engage into the pelvis. Gail renamed this the Abdominal Lift and Tuck.

acupuncture. A therapeutic technique in which needles are inserted into specific parts of the body in order to heal and relieve pain.

amniotic fluid. The liquid surrounding the baby in the womb. See bag of waters.

anterior. Toward the front of the body. The anterior position places the baby’s occiput is toward the mother’s front.

asynclitic. The baby’s head is tilted to the side as if listening. The head is now wider.

bag of waters. The amniotic sac, or the double-layered membrane that secretes amniotic fluid around the baby and protects the baby in the womb. It’s designed to break or rupture naturally before or during labor, but sometimes a provider will manually break it during a vaginal exam (to “break the bag”).

Balances, The Three. See The Three BalancesSM

balanced body point of view. Philosophy of body work for improved physiological functioning.

belly lift. See abdominal lift.

Belly Mapping® Method. Belly Mapping® was created by Gail Tully in 2003 as a three-step process that pregnant people can use  to estimate the fetal position in the third trimester of pregnancy. Belly Mapping® is trademarked and is a process different than the provider’s palpation of the pregnant abdomen or the parents own gentle exploration. Belly Mapping® Method gives parents a systemized process to make an educated guess at their baby’s position. It is sometimes successful before third trimester. Bonding in pregnancy seems enhanced with Belly Mapping®

body balancing. Various body work methods, such as chiropractic, craniosacral, Dynamic Body Balancing, Ortho Bionomy, and various and subtle fascial therapies to bring about a balance in the body. Will help the baby settle into a position that complements the birthing process.

bodywork. Physical therapy and body balancing methods to promote well-being. See body balancing.

birth giver, birthing parent, birthing person. Non-gender terms for the pregnant and birthing person. Used for general reference in addition to birthing father, mother, maternal, which are associated with a gender but not absolute to gender other than by custom.

breech extraction. When a provider manually pulls out a breech baby during birth.

breech. A presentation where the baby is positioned either buttocks, knees or feet first. Only about 3–4 percent of babies are breech at the due date of 40 weeks.

broad ligament. A supporting ligament anchoring the womb to the fascia lining the pelvis. The broad ligament wraps the womb and fallopian tubes somewhat like a scarf.

cardinal movements. The series of positions and movements a baby makes during labor and birth to fit the smallest diameters of the body through the pelvis and muscles of the birth canal.

caregiver, care provider, provider. The health professional supporting a woman during pregnancy and birth, typically a doctor or midwife.

cephalic. Head down position of the fetus. Concerning the head.

cephalic prominence. The baby’s forehead or occiput, depending on which the provider feels abdominally. A clue to chin flexion and engagement. (From the root cephalo, or “head.”)

cephalopelvic disproportion. A rare condition when a baby’s head is too big to fit into the mother’s pelvis. CPD should be discerned from extension, which may not repeat in a future birth, and may be able to be corrected in the current birth.

cervical ripening. The body’s process to soften and thin the cervix before dilation.

cervix. The opening of the womb to the vagina. From the Latin word for the neck.

cesarean section, c-section. A surgical birth where an incision is made in the mother’s abdominal wall, including the fascia, the uterus is cut open and the baby is extracted.

clinical exhaustion. Severe exhaustion, especially in the context of long labor without rest or nourishment. The body has used up reserves and begins digesting muscle for energy. Dangerous to mother and baby.

craniosacral therapy. A holistic practice where a therapist’s palpation releases restrictions in the craniosacral system to improve the functioning of the central nervous system.

diaphragmatic release. Myofascial technique to loosen and balance soft tissues via the fascia surrounding the muscle fibers in uterine ligaments as well as the pelvic floor and respiratory diaphragm.

double-peaked contraction. A pattern where a contraction builds, peaks, subsides a bit, and then builds and peaks again followed by a pause in uterine activity.

double-hip press. A technique where a support person presses a birthing person’s buttocks for counter pressure to the pelvis. May relieve back pain or back labor.

double-hip squeeze. A technique where a support person, or two support people working in sync, presses the outer hip bones (ASIS) inward (medially) to open the outlet of the pelvis. When baby’s head is visible but not easing between the bottom of the pelvis (between the sitz bones, which are the ischial tuberosities).

doula. A Greek word used for a woman who supports mothers and couples with labor preparation during pregnancy and with labor and birth. Birth doula. Dozens of control studies show excellent physical and psychological benefits of doula support. Also, a postpartum doula for helping in the home after childbirth.

electronic fetal monitor. A device that records fetal heartbeats per minute using an ultrasound machine that makes a paper record of heartbeat tracings. May be used externally with a belt or internally with a uterine catheter.

engage, engagement. The baby’s head dips into the pelvic brim. Also called lightning, and the phrase, the baby “dropped,” as dropped into the pelvis.

epidural. A form of regional anesthesia injected into the space between the epidural membrane and the spine during labor and birth.

episiotomy. A surgical incision through the perineum to enlarge the vagina. Associated with weakened pelvic floor and incontinence. Also called clitorectomy since one method clips the curus roots of the clitoris.

extended, extension. Muscles stretched, as when neck muscles extended to lift the chin away from the chest.

external cephalic version. A technique where a provider attempts to manually turn a breech baby by pressing on the mother’s abdomen. Risks in the procedure make fetal monitoring crucial and waiting until the baby’s lungs are mature is safer in case the placenta is disturbed and an emergency cesarean is needed.

false labor. “Practice” contractions that do not signal the actual beginning of labor. In other words, there is no change, or very little change, in the cervix. Maybe hormonally triggered or caused by fetal activity or maternal dehydration.

fetal scalp electrode. A form of electronic fetal monitoring where a small wire is screwed into the baby’s scalp to pick up the heart rate for recording it on a strip of paper.

fetal doppler. A handheld ultrasound instrument used to hear a fetal heartbeat.

fetoscope. A stethoscope for the womb. No electronically formed ultrasonic waves.

finger pads. The fleshy surface of the first joint of the fingers (rather than the fingertips). Where your fingerprints are.

flexion, flexed. Moved towards the center of the body. Bent, curled, as in when the chin is flexed to the chest the baby’s head will fit better.

floating. When the baby’s presenting part is not yet engaged in the pelvic brim, but rather “floating” in the water above it.

forward-leaning inversion. Developed by Dr. Carol Phillips, DC, a self-care, body balancing technique with benefits and risks. Second of the Three BalancesSM used for aiding application of baby’s head on the cervix, easing dilation, assisting flexion of the head, making room in the lower uterine segment for baby to move spontaneously into a head down position or before a manual attempt to reposition baby. Avoid if there is a risk of stroke, such as with high blood pressure, or during a bout of heartburn. See the webpage for tips and warnings. Take care to avoid a fall.

frontum. The brow or forehead, used as a landmark to describe a baby coming face first, chin up.

fundus. The top of the womb. The corpus of the uterus.

hands-and-knees position. A maternal position where the mother is on all fours to allow labor to work with gravity. Variations are knee-elbow and kneeling and leaning over a birth ball or the raised back of a hospital bed.

head-down baby. Cephalic presentation. A presentation where the baby is positioned headfirst in the pelvis. Only half the story here at Spinning Babies®.

homeopathy. A holistic wellness method based on the concept that “like cures like.” Certain remedies address back labor, fetal position, general childbirth health or common complications. Also several help newborn wellbeing during teething and for digestion, etc.

Jiggle. The Jiggle is the first of the Three BalancesSM, a service of Spinning Babies® Aware Practitioners, Spinning Babies® Approved Trainers and in the teaching curriculum of the Spinning Babies® Certified Parent Educator. The Jiggle comes to us through Ortho Bionomy, a gentle and profound body balancing approach.

ketones. A by-product when the body converts fat into glycogen. The production of ketones can slow labor and cause fetal distress.

latent labor phase. Contractions occurring before early labor begins dilating the cervix. The word latent means the potential is not manifested. The promise of things to come.

Leopold’s Maneuvers, Leopold’s. A four-step system to determine fetal position by palpation through the abdomen. The provider performs Leopold’s Maneuvers, the parent performs Belly Mapping® Method.

malposition. A term used to describe any fetal position that is not optimal or ideal for labor. When the baby’s diameters are not at their smallest. It has been long debated whether the breech position is a malposition. Breech or head down, when the chin is not tucked, the larger diameters and reduced fetal movement associated with extension can make birth more complicated.

Manteado Massage, comfort, or body balancing techniques done with the Rebozo.

maternal positioning. Postures and movements a mother can do to work with gravity during pregnancy and labor to guide the baby into an optimal position.

Mayan uterine massage. An external massage method that lifts and guides the womb into its optimal position. In doing so, may allow the baby to move into an optimal position.

meconium. A baby’s first stool, which if found in the amniotic fluid, may signal fetal distress. Monitoring is recommended to see if the baby continues to be distressed.

medical model of maternity care. The philosophy that focuses on diagnosing and treating complications that can occur during pregnancy, labor, and birth. The medical model is influenced by Descartes who introduced the concept of man as a collection of parts, which like a machine, can be treated separately from the whole.

mentum. Latin for [I]chin[I], this is the presenting part of a face-first baby. This baby is in extreme extension.

midpelvis. The middle layer of the pelvis, or mid-pelvis, at the level of the ischial spines. 0-station (“zero station”) the most narrow point in the journey through the pelvis.  The lunge opens the midpelvis.

mother. The gestating parent, also called birth giver, birthing parent. Mother is also an archetype. Used interchangeably at Spinning Babies® and our community of users. We open the dialogue by using non-gender associated terms as well as the term, mother.

moxibustion. A technique used to turn a breech baby by heating an acupuncture point.

myofascial release, fascial therapy. A holistic method of releasing the tension in the fascia,  the connective membranes surrounding all muscles, organs, bones, and vessels. Myo means muscle. We don’t mean any specific approach but do prefer subtle methods over strong pressure varieties of therapy.

natural birth. Birth without pain medication or other significant medical intervention. Birth as nature intended. Natural birth is often termed “physiologic birth” which prioritizes spontaneous body processes rather than all vaginal birth. All ways of birth are birth, however. We have a bias towards supporting body function but not a judgement against necessary interventions. We can be grateful to live in an era where cesareans exist and work devotedly to reduce their need without being inconsistent.

occiput. The plate of bone that makes up the back of the skull. The “landmark” for a head-down baby who is not face or forehead first.

open-knee position. Optimal fetal positioning technique used to help rotate a posterior baby by letting the baby back up a centimeter at the brim so that rotation is possible. Used most often with active contractions.

optimal fetal positioning. Origin of term and concept by Jean Sutton and Pauline Scott. Gravity-friendly positions and use of a pregnancy belt to help guide a baby to a flexed presentation (chin is tucked) which include occiput anterior, left occiput anterior or left occiput transverse fetal positions with the intent of straightforward labor experience. Inspiration for the clarification and formation of Spinning Babies®. Gail read OFP about 11-12 years after starting her quest to find effective ways to ease posterior labors.

palpation. To feel with one’s hands, especially feeling a baby through a mother’s belly.

pelvic brim. See pelvic inlet.

pelvic floor. A hammock of muscle layers that support abdominal organs. The opening in the pelvic floor allows the urethra, rectum, and vagina through plays an important role in the fetal rotation. Tension or asymmetry in the pelvic floor can lead to malpositioning of the womb and baby. The pelvic floor can be released of tension or torsion in pregnancy and labor with body balancing.

pelvic inlet.  The top level of the pelvis. The entrance to the bony pelvis, which a baby must enter to “engage” and begin the descent. The diameter of the front-to-back of the inlet can be opened or closed by how the pelvis is tilted or the thighs are rotated.

pelvic outlet. The bottom of the pelvis, which a baby must exit before birth. Squatting opens the pelvic outlet.

physiology, physiological methods. The philosophy of treating pregnancy and labor as normal, healthy events. We go beyond patience and pay attention to process. Is the body functioning fully or striving to overcome effects of gravity such as tension and torsion or loose ligaments?

Pitocin (also Syntocinon). A synthetic form of the labor hormone oxytocin used to induce or augment (strengthen) labor.

placenta. The “life-support” organ connecting the baby to the uterine wall.

posterior. Towards the back. In the context of the fetal position, when the fetal occiput aims toward the mother’s back. Baby’s spine is lined up close to the mother’s spine.

premature labor. Labor that begins before 37 weeks. Baby’s full development has not taken place yet.  Even at 36 weeks, mortality is higher in the first year of life for premature babies. This includes twins.

presenting, presentation. The part of the baby coming through the pelvis first is presenting. The position of the baby is the baby’s presentation, such as a posterior presentation.

psoas muscle pair. Muscles stabilizing the base of the spine and allowing us to stand upright. The psoas swings over the pelvis at the leg sockets to attach to the top of the thigh.

pubic bone, symphysis pubis. The joint and cartilage joining the arch between the hip bones—the pubic arch. In the front of the pelvis beneath the pubic hair.

Rebozo. A Mexican or Central America fabric, long and somewhat narrow in comparison to length, woven of silk or cotton. Used for multiple purposes. Ceremoniously used as well as for domestic purposes. Traditionally woven by women for women.  Refer to traditional midwives and healers of the region of origin.

rotate, rotation, fetal rotation. The turning movements a baby completes to fit the pelvis and pelvic floor to descend during labor and birth. (The spin in Spinning Babies.)

round ligaments. Ligaments that anchor and support the womb in the front. They attach to the fascia on the inside surface of the pubic arch

routine practice. A healthcare practice routinely applied to nearly everyone; habitual care practices.

sacral promontory. The base for the spine and top of the sacrum, wider and fuller than the rest of sacrum.

sacral release. A fascial technique to “unwind” torqued fascia encasing the sacrum to allow the sacrum to return to its normal place and so release cervical ligaments supporting the womb. A useful technique when the baby is either breech or posterior.

sacrum, sacral. The triangular bone that is the base of the spine and the “slide” for baby during pushing. The tailbone connects to the sacrum and can open like a door as the head passes by; relating to the sacrum, as in craniosacral, a method of bodywork.

side-lying release. Refined and introduced by Dr. Carol Phillips, DC, a body balancing technique with benefits for all. One of the Three BalancesSM made popular because of a noticeable effectiveness in helping the posterior baby rotate and labor to progress rapidly from an active labor stall. Comforting in pregnancy and helpful to reduce on and off again contractions. See tips, warnings, and instructions on our webpage.

singleton. One baby carried in pregnancy, as contrasted to twins or other multiples.

spontaneous birth. Birth allowed to begin naturally, without induction and end naturally without forceps, vacuum, ventouse, or cesarean.

starting position. The position a baby assumes prior to labor or during latent labor.

symmetry, symmetrical. Balance. Equal on both sides. The body is not perfectly symmetrical, so we use this word with liberal generalization.

Syntocinon (also Pitocin). A synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin used to induce or augment (strengthen) labor.

The Three BalancesSM. Three techniques that are recommended by Spinning Babies® (but not “Spinning Babies® Techniques”)

The Three Levels SolutionsSM. The pelvis can be divided into three levels for fetal rotation. Somewhat different than cardinal movements, the descriptions in the The Three Levels SolutionsSM make Spinning Babies® a leader in birth thought and physiological solutions. The Three Levels SolutionsSM offers an educational service to match techniques to which level the baby may be impacted upon the bones or “soft” tissues of the pelvis. Two more levels are discussed in the advanced workshop called Spinning Babies® Integration. Innovative and of historical significance.

The Three PrinciplesSM. Three principles of birth preparation and results sought by using Spinning Babies® approach.

transition. The stage of labor in which the cervix completes dilation, often characterized by long, strong contractions.

transverse lie. The position in which a baby lies horizontally on his or her side across a womb.  In labor, this baby could then have a shoulder presentation or an arm could come out first. If the baby can’t be helped to head down or breech the birth will have to be by cesarean.

transverse, occiput. When the fetal occiput aims toward the mother’s hip, to the side.

turning contractions. Gail Tully’s term for a contraction surge, or series, that are strong, long, and seem like labor. Often in the day rather than night time, they are sparked by fetal movements as the baby tries to reposition out of a posterior or breech position. Repeated turning contractions are an indication to begin a daily routine for body balancing. Must be discerned from premature labor. Typical turning contraction occurs after 37 weeks but may occur earlier in pregnancy.

Ultrasound, Sonogram. Ultrasonic waves to acquire an image inside the body. In childbearing, to image the baby inside the womb, or listen to a baby’s heart rate by Doppler or external fetal monitoring equipment.

uterine ligaments. The ligaments supporting and connecting the womb. See broad ligament, round ligament.

vacuum delivery. An assisted vaginal birth where a vacuum extractor suctions the baby to aid delivery.

vaginal birth. When a baby is delivered via the vagina, as contrasted to a surgical birth or cesarean section.

VBAC. Acronym for “vaginal birth after cesarean.”

Walcher’s position. One of the most studied birth positions. Used to open the front-to-back diameter of the inlet to help fetal rotation or descent from the top of the pelvis. It’s intense. Try Abdominal Lift and Tuck or a variation of Walcher’s first for less intensity on the back muscles.

Webster Maneuver Dr. Webster, DC, popularized a sequence of techniques that increase spontaneous flipping of the breech fetus to cephalic, or head down. It involves a sacroiliac joint adjustment along with a round ligament release on the opposite side. Variations on Webster’s abound among chiropractors and bodyworkers. The Bagnell’s add a pubic symphysis adjustment. Carol Phillips releases both round ligaments and adjusts both S. I. joints as well as other body balancing techniques.

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