Any one can benefit from supple muscles and range of motion in movement. Please explore our daily activities for a wonderful now and more ease in your future.
Some pregnancies and even some births find these activities crucial for comfort or even for supporting a vaginal birth. Here’s some invitations your body may be giving you:
- Discomfort with walk or lying in bed trying to rest
- A difficult history of menstrual periods or conception,
- A challenging previous birth, long, painful or finishing by cesarean or other interventions
- Baby is breech, posterior or lying sideways these will support the more important techniques found in articles under those titles. Lying sideways (transverse lie) and many breeches will need additional techniques to give baby the space to move head down on their own or by a doctor’s hand (external cephalic version).
If you are at the end of pregnancy with any of those indicators, you may want to do these every day for a few days in a row, in addition to our Three Sisters of BalanceSM and scheduling a Chiropractic appointment, other professional, or book a body work session or online consultation with an Aware Practitioner on our list (in limited areas).
The jiggle can be done daily but please do it weekly if you can’t do it daily. The Jiggle in this form is an abbreviated version of Jenny Blyth’s Pelvic Jiggle and Bum Jiggle.
Jenny Blyth is a Spinning Babies® Approved Trainer and Birth Attendant and Spinning Babies® Aware Practitioner Instructor in Australia. Jenny shares information about the value of gentle jiggle for relaxing while helping balance the nervous system. Jiggling in this way is calming and pain reducing.
The fascia responds to a vibration motion by increasing hydration and circulation. Improved function of the fascia allows for muscles, ligaments and even joints to function better in turn. The sacrum itself can become a focus of the jiggle and begin to become more mobile. This could lead to an improvement in rotation and descent.
The Jiggle is one of the most luscious relaxation techniques when done with presence. There is a quality of the touch that invites trust.
Just about anyone will enjoy being jiggled. I’ll call the two people the giver and the receiver. There can be two givers, and if there are, the more they are in sync with their speed and rhythm, the more likely the relaxation will be deep. Keep conversations soothing and quiet. The receiver could fall asleep or enter a calm state of mind. Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system can restore optimal function of the lower uterine segment, which is another potential avenue to fetal rotation.
Depending on hand placement and length of jiggling, various parts of the body may be relaxed and enlivened:
- The lower back muscles
- The muscles of the buttocks
- The muscles of the pelvic floor through jiggling the sitz bones for a good while
- The bone at the back of the pelvis is the sacrum and it is more able to rock the top forward and back to open the top or the bottom of the pelvis as needed.
- The hip joint
How to Jiggle
Jiggle lightly. Move your hand(s) gentle and steady. Use both hands or one hand. I like two. Another likes one handed jiggling.
In general, I would say that touching the body extremely lightly communicates with fascia whereas pressing into the body talks to the muscles. This is a generalization that is meant to remind you to lighten up your touch while you jiggle. The light action has a particular advantage to helping stiffened fascia become more “fluid” and supple.
Your grip is mild. Hold the leg or buttocks as if you were holding a sleeping 10-month-old on your shoulder, you’re not letting their body slide sideways. Too tight and they’d wake, too loose and they slip. You get it?
The receiver needs to be comfortable if they are going to get the most benefit. They lie on the left side with pillows under the knee and ankle with the left leg a bit straight and behind them. But vary the details if needed to add comfort.
Talking about something other than their comfort may be annoying, like someone turning the light on when you are asleep. Keep a quiet environment.
Jiggle for several minutes and then the helper’s hands can find a new spot to jiggle as the tissues soften and that part relaxes fully.
Starting and then stopping abruptly can also be disruptive. Tell the person you are about to end. Let your hands remain while you take one breath. Slide your hand off the body and step away to your errand.
The receiver can be standing and leaning on the bathroom sink or they can be back in bed lying on their side for this. A pillow between the knee and ankle is a must anytime someone is resting on their side. Position yourself to reach comfortably with both hands. You may need to sit. Be symmetrical in your own pelvis.
The Thigh Jiggle
- Before you begin, describe the technique and ask for consent. Slowly introduce your touch by beginning in a non-intimate spot then move to the middle of the thigh. Avoid touching the top of the inner thigh. Both of your hands will hold the thigh with a similar mild pressure. Hold one thigh with both hands curved around the muscles.
- Each hand moves opposite the other. The motion may be up and down or side-to-side, but there is very little distance in the movement. Picture the soothing jiggle used to calm a sleepy baby. We aren’t shaking the thigh.
- While you repeat the movement side-to-side begin to feel for a sense of fluidity in the leg muscles. At first it will be a little awkward to jiggle the leg. As you jiggle for a couple minutes the motion becomes smooth, fluid. Notice that the feeling of fluidity reaches further and further. Keep it up. You have created an oscillation, increasing the hydration of the substance within the fascia. Keep it fluid, as if the movement ripples between your hands.
- Keep your grip secure and even. You’ll begin to notice the ripples extend out further from your hands
- To stop, slow the jiggle before you stop entirely. Tell the person you are about to end before you stop. Let your hands remain while you take one breath. Slide your hand off the body slowly, lightening your touch as your hand lifts out of contact.
You can do one side or both sides. In other techniques you need to do both sides, but with the Jiggle, both sides or one side is optional. It will be more effective to do one side for six minutes than two sides for three minutes, for instance. Tell that to the receiver and let them decide in case they would really like both sides of their body treated equally.
Sensing the Ripples
In a minute or two the ripples make it to the hip and maybe down the opposite direction, too, to the knee. Another couple of minutes and the looseness might be felt coming around the front to the hip bone. The helper isn’t checking with their hands, they are sensing this through the thigh. Keep going and feel the relaxation extend to the pubic bone, the sitz bone, the sacrum, and even the belly. Continue for 10 to 20 minutes to feel and see the deeper relaxation and shift to a calm state.
Different people will have different ease with their fascia and in different areas. Some will have restrictions. The ripples will go to the restriction and begin inviting it to release.
As the helper, you can rearrange your hands. You can place your hand on the buttock and hip or the side of the hip and the sacrum. Start with the thigh to show your touch can be trusted and don’t change locations before a few minutes have actually passed.
It’s important that you are comfortable in your position to do this. You may want to sit. You may stand. Rearrange yourself and be symmetrical with how you settle your weight on your feet or sitting. It’s common for givers to say, I’m fine, and then within a minute or two they feel fussy because they are using their bodies in a very asymmetrical way. Get yourself situated. Comfy, even. Supporting your elbows on the bed or your own body is a way of relaxing yourself to keep going.
Jiggle for 5 to 10 minutes for relaxation, but a full 20 minutes. You might jiggle 3 or 4 places on the thigh and buttocks over this time period.
Expect it takes at least five minutes to vibrate into the muscles and 10 minutes or more to go to the depth of the pelvic fascia, releasing ever more and more tension. Change the location of your hands and begin again. Don’t go more than an hour; a half hour may be plenty long for most people. About 20 minutes into this, the receiver may be asleep. But really, the body will tell you if you listen.Stay with the jiggle as long as you both enjoy it.
Be mindful of how the receiver of this yummy jiggle is positioned. They are lying on their side. The hips are often asymmetrical, and the top leg bent and rests forward over a peanut ball or pillows. The ankle is supported as well as the knee. Place a pillow under the thigh. This will prevent pulling at the sacroiliac joint.
As I say often, be steady and oscillating, not shaking or jerking. This is for safety as well as comfort.
Contraindications: Don’t Do This If…
The distracted jiggler with a highly caffeinated touch can bring the receiver out of sync with themselves rather than into regulation of the nervous system.
The common assumption about jiggle techniques is that the baby is blocked in the uterus or pelvis like a jar of marbles that can’t be poured out. You can add water and a jiggle and then the marbles will pour out. This is not our assumption. We are eliciting fascia receptors and helping the fibriles of connective tissue reorganize themselves and invite the kind of calm that is good to gestate in, to digest and rest in.
Don’t let the receiver tip over – you’re not that vigorous. This should feel good. You’re not shaking so much as vibrating, but vibrating apples doesn’t elicit an image. Rattling the apple tree branch sets the fruit flying. Now tone that down and make it appropriate to the fascia.
Spinning Babies® is a non-force approach. We provide the jiggle and trust the baby to make the turn once the “room becomes available.” We don’t shake. There’s a baby in there! You are not trying to shake the baby loose. The balanced body will help baby improve their position, let them move more freely and smoothly, and help them grow (along with good nutrition and abstaining from smoking and pollution).
Most birthing people won’t want to be jiggled during a contraction.
Mexican, Central and South American midwives have their own variation of a jiggle:
Rebozo Sifting (Manteado)
The Rebozo is a long woven cloth from indigenous cultures of Mexico, Central America, South America (a similar cloth is used in Russian tradition). Rebozo sifting or Manteada relaxes smooth muscles that the pregnant person can’t relax by will.
In Spinning Babies® we are becoming more aware of the nuances of using the Rebozo in our repertoire. Please read more on our Rebozo page about how we are moving to support the culture of the Rebozo.
For those of us who do use the Rebozo for fetal position reasons and who are not experienced with Sabado y Manteada, Don’t try to manipulate the baby’s position by a forceful flip at the end. You may have heard about the Mexican or Central American midwife doing this but you may not know the preceding factors. See more about my thinking on that on our Rebozo page.
Trust the release. When the baby finds room, the baby will move.
Don’t do this if… Don’t do this fast when the person experiences pain or spasms in the front. This may be the round ligaments. For instance, if pain is felt when a doctor or midwife feels into the lower belly for the baby’s head, then sift very slowly. If the sharp muscle pains have been recent (within two weeks) in lower front abdomen at times, then a quick jiggle could bring on another spasm. Sift slowly and often and the spasms will stop coming on (add magnesium if you would like to support those muscle fibers so they don’t spasm).
Don’t do this if there has been bleeding from the placenta or for unknown reasons from the vagina; or if the pregnant person doesn’t want to or if there is discomfort.
For more information on Spinning Babies® and the Rebozo click for our story of respectful use of the Rebozo.
Standing Sacral Release (A fascial technique)
Why? This re-balances the tough membrane (fascia) that wraps the sacrum. Sometimes the sacrum has a “buckle” or “wrinkle” in it which twists the lower uterine segment in turn. This is likely to release the “wrinkle” and, in turn, untwist the lower uterine segment.
Who does this? A fascial therapist, or a Chiropractor who knows fascial release. Some doulas have even used this because its a good comfort measure for lower backache in pregnancy or labor. It’s non-invasive and gentle. Partners can learn it and do it regularly.
How? This technique is easy to do when you slow down and tune into the connection. But it is hard to explain through words and pictures.
The mother stands facing a wall. She puts her hands or forearms against the wall. Her head does not rest on the wall unless she really wants it to, and then that’s part of the release. The helper stands to her side, facing either side the helper prefers. The dominant hand probably should go towards the mother’s back.
The helper so lightly touches the mother that they have to pay attention or contact is broken. The weight of contact is the weight of a nickel (or shilling?). The helper’s less dominant hand is on the mother’s lower abdomen – to start with. The helper’s more dominant hand is turned, fingers down, and the “ball” or base of the thumb is gently resting on the “buckle” of the sacrum. Finding the buckle takes a couple light passes from the top of the sacrum toward the tailbone. When the base of the palm feels resistance of a subtle “ledge” of something under the woman’s skin, that’s the “buckle.” The “force” (however lightly given) is towards the direction of the sacrum, off into the air, not towards the mother. Remember — the fingers point down, but away from the body. The hand waits there, lightly (the weight of a nickle) until the buckle suddenly is gone and the hand slides suddenly off into the air.
Standing Sacral Release Photo By Villano Photography
Both the mother and the helper have their knees slightly bent. This helps each of them respond better to one another and the subtle movements going on in the technique. The mother may feel like bending her knees quite a bit more and moving in response to her shifting fascia. This may be easy to resist, so the mother may be encouraged to listen to her body and move to make herself even more comfortable. The helper attempts to “follow” her, maintaining such a light pressure and perhaps moving the hand to follow the point of tension which sometimes leaves the sacrum to go somewhere else, for instance, the hip or knee, or lower back, etc.
One of you will know when you are done. The mother because she feels the release, the helper because he or she has run out of time, I suppose. Helpers shouldn’t worry that they don’t know what they are doing. They don’t really. But the fascia does. Follow the fascia!
How long? Time varies. The first time or two might take 2 -20 minutes or longer. Each person is different. 2-5 minutes becomes typical after the first time or two.
How frequent? Doing this a few times in pregnancy and once in early labor is helpful. Do this after a long car ride to help avoid breech. Daily, if the partner can do it, when the baby is breech or persistently posterior.
Do this when… Pregnancy is uncomfortable or the baby is in a less than ideal position (breech, posterior, transverse). Do this when engagement doesn’t occur by 38 weeks, or when labor is long and descent is delayed. Do this when labor is uncomfortable, especially in the back.
Don’t use this if…. the mother can’t stand up. Use the abdominal release (diaphragmatic release) instead.
Thanks: to Dr. Carol Phillips, DC, in Annapolis, MD, for teaching us the benefits of the Standing Sacral Release and to Deb McLaughlin, CST, in Duluth, MN, for bringing it to our doula trainings.
Diaphragmatic Release or Abdominal Release
Why? Relaxes the broad and round ligaments helping the pelvis to come into balance.
Who does this? A fascial release therapist or craniosacral therapist can teach this and you can learn to do this as a couple or with a doula or friend.
How? The mother semi-sits on a couch with a helper kneeling on the floor. The mother can be comfortable, breathing freely. The helper kneels or sits facing the side of the mother. The less dominant hand (with no rings!) is under the mother’s sacrum. She lays on the helper’s hand. The helper does not push or anything with this hand. This hand is passive. This hand can send warmth, love, and relaxation. Your intent is to hold space and complete a circle with your top hand.
The dominant hand rests lightly on the lower abdomen. The pinkie finger is near the symphasis, with fingers toward the hip that is opposite (furthest) from the helper. Gentle compression (the weight of a nickel again) is on the abdomen. The helper has to lift the weight of the upper arm and be mindful not to rest the weight of the arm on the mother.
The helper’s hands are soft, light, warm, and holding a good intent. Their slight compression (aided by the weight of the mother on the lower hand) allows the fascia to begin to release. The mother breathes deeply and slowly, as if falling asleep. But not forced. The baby will be quite active afterward. The release makes the broad ligament relax and that lets the baby move more freely. The baby notices this.
How long? It varies. Wait for the feeling of movement of the fascia in the front and the back of the mother.
How frequent? A few times in pregnancy and during early labor as indicated by pregnancy discomfort or fetal malposition.
Do this when… you’re a first-time mother; you have discomforts in pregnancy, including discomfort or pain when baby kicks (this may indicate a tight broad ligament); you have an anterior placenta (the exercise will help baby rotate past it more easily and reduce the chance of a posterior baby); when you have a consistent need for a chiropractor, in other words, you keep going but keep being out of alignment.
Thanks again to Dr. Carol Phillips, DC!
Why? An imbalance in the pelvic floor twists the lower uterine segment (are you seeing how these body structures are all related?). This asymmetry can lead to malpositions such as a brow presentation, a posterior baby, or a breech. However, it is most often associated with the asynclitic baby, the one whose tipped head makes vaginal birth a challenge with long pushing stages and perhaps a switch to cesarean delivery.
Who does this? This can be learned from a fascial therapist or another professional who uses Dynamic Body Balancing techniques taught by Dr. Carol Phillips, Chiropractor. A pregnant person and a birth partner can even do it themselves at home!
How? The pregnant person lays on the side more comfortable to start with. Shoulders are one above the other and the pelvis is not tilted! She can’t be leaning back to look up at you, for instance.
Her upper hip starts out directly above the other one. So her top leg is resting upon the lower leg. Her lower leg is straight as an arrow. Very straight. Her partner or her doula supports her shoulders so the top shoulder doesn’t tip forward. Face-to-face encouragement can be vital in labor and be the key to success! Don’t ask the laboring mother to do this without eye-to-eye contact and constant encouraging words! I’m serious!
The helper holds the anterior superior iliac crest… or the front of the hip bone. Press down about as much as you would to put a lid on a food container… firm but not a lot. Enough to notice, but not to make a statement.
The mother has to be so close to the edge of the firm, hard surface that she relies on you totally to hold her from tipping off! Be trustworthy!
As the helper pushes down and back on her hip bone, the mother lets her top leg fall into the air. It hangs limp – you’ll have to coach her to let her leg go. Hold her firm so she believes she can do this without slipping off. Let her leg hang freely — it should not touch the floor or you! Wait a minute or two. In labor, wait through and between three contractions (two if she seems like she’d never make it through three, you know her personality).
Then she lifts her leg back up. Someone might help her but it can’t be the helper, she (or he) is holding her hip and must continue to so the mom won’t fall. She can lay on her back a second, then she switches sides. Her head goes where her feet were, or she switches to the other side of a massage table. Repeat for the other leg. Be confident and inspire confidence in the mother.
How long? This is hard to answer, but most important is to do it on both sides!
How frequent? A time or two in pregnancy and then again in those labors that are long, delayed, or that have malpositions.
Do this for… asynclitism; posterior presentation; to enhance a vaginal breech (done before labor or in early labor); slow descent due to a first time mother’s strong pelvic floor (ballerinas and horseback riders, runners, etc.) Long previous labors or pushing stages. Hip pain. Preventative or to help along a labor.
Don’t do this if…. you have significant back injuries, like surgeries or spinal damage. You wouldn’t do it with a very large woman if you couldn’t hold her from falling forward off the table or hospital bed. There is no need to do this if labor is progressing well. It can be done during pushing stage if labor slows due to a “tight fit” or asynclitic head or there is reason to “make more room.”
Note: Make sure to explain to the mother first that this may be a somewhat uncomfortable technique (some pregnant women find it more comfortable than not! Others find it challenging when a head is in the pelvis). Explain that it is vitally important to do it on both sides so that more asymmetry isn’t caused by doing it on only one side – and really tipping the head to the side because it was only done on one side.
Ask the laboring mother before you start, to hold the position for 3 contractions on one side and 3 contractions on the other side. Let the mother pick which side to start on. She will pick the more comfortable side first and that’s fine.
This technique is awesome. It has helped many women avoid a cesarean (but not all). I would say it works wonders! After it’s done, the reduction in the pain women feel in labor is significant!
Again, thanks to Dr. Carol Phillips, DC, for teaching me this one at a long birth. That willing birthing woman was suddenly so relaxed that she dozed at 8 cm and began pushing her baby out so quietly the midwife almost didn’t turn around from her charting at the counter to catch the baby! Later, I’ve used it at many a labor with an asynclitic baby. It’s not always dramatic, but almost always resumes progress. This shows that a lot of slow progress isn’t the bony pelvis as much as the tension of the pelvic floor. It’s worth a try!