Side-lying Release Effects in Labor

By: Gail Tully |
2019-03-18 |
Provider Tips
Tammy Ryan showing Sidelying Release

Side-lying Release is the technique of an obstetrician which was formalized by Dr. Carol Phillips, DC so that others could replicate the beneficial slow stretch.

Learn the Side-lying Release

How to do the Side-lying Release is on our website. Learn the SLR (and our 3 other favorite myofascial release techniques for pregnancy and birth) directly from Carol Phillips in our Better Birth with Body Balancing video. Or, learn SLR from Gail Tully, creator of Spinning Babies, in our Spinning Babies Parent Class video where you can learn Spinning Babies® Three Sisters of Balance and our approach to easier birth.

How SLR works

The weight of the leg is what stretches the muscles signaling a neurophysiological reaction which temporarily lengthens the muscles to that side of the pelvis. Having equal flexibility and openness makes doing the Side-lying Release (SLR) a priority. The lengthening could occur for 45 minutes to 2 hours. Regulated contractions are the result when the SLR is done in labor. Comfort is the result when done whether pregnant or not. Hypermobility is a contraindication. Tension in the upper back or round ligaments is felt by the few for who releasing the tension in the pelvis reveals the secondary tensions. A Standing Sacral Release typically resolves the secondary tension as well as offering further benefits to fascia and sacrum.
Pictured below: Carol Phillips, DC, and Gail Tully after one of Carol’s workshops.
Carol Phillips of Dynamic Body Balancing and Gail Tully of Spinning Babies

Side-lying Release Benefits

Carol Phillips lists the primary benefits of Side-lying Release as:

  • Open the Sacral/Iliac joints
  • Free up the sacrum
  • Soften the pelvic floor to open the cervical portion of the uterus so the baby can turn

Gail Tully notes the effectiveness of the SLR at the onset of labor includes:

  • Regulating “Start and Stop” contractions when baby is high (-3 Station (De Lee); Hodge I, yet above Hodge II)
    • Contractions become regular and smooth a short time – open the brim now!
    • Contractions stop and rest becomes possible – next time labor begins more smoothly

Gail also notes the effectiveness of the SLR in active labor includes:

  • Contractions become regular and smooth – open the midpelvis (-0 Station (De Lee); Hodge III, but below Hodge II which requires a different strategy, though SLR will add comfort, but not likely progress)
  • Contractions can pause and give rest for one hour. Stay near
    • When contractions resume in one hour baby is often born in 1-2 hours
    • Allow the birthing person to rest deeply during this time
  • Baby may rotate and come down on the cervix
    • Release of amniotic fluid is reported (in labor)
    • Sudden birth is possible and reported regularly but not 100%
    • Open pelvis where baby waits


Side-lying Release Stories

Visit our page on the Side-lying Release for complete instructions and contraindications. There are updates on how to do the SLR. Practice on a willing friend before trying this in labor and actually feel it for yourself both as the giver and the receiver. You’ll learn a lot!!
We hope for your Side-lying Release stories. Please send us one on this email thread or in another email to if you include a photo and permission, we may post or share or use in Gail’s book. Thank you! Anonymity is also welcome!
Nurse Lorri Elliot, Spinning Babies Enthusiast in the University of Washington Medical Center, recently gave me quite a release. Side-lying Release eliminated a headache, cleared my mind of a resulting fog, and gave me a pain-free 24 hours! (After that something happened to one of my hips and I got wonky again!)
The skill of someone who does this regularly is enhanced by repetition and by re-reading the instructions aloud. There are details that get missed. Returning to a Spinning Babies® Workshop is helpful to get the updated technique and the correct method of doing this technique. Enjoy!

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