When Not to Use Spinning Babies® Techniques

By: Gail Tully |
December 17, 2018 |
Pregnancy,
Preparing for Birth

You can always “use” the concepts taught on this website. Spinning Babies® as an approach for comfort in pregnancy and ease in birth can be a way of seeing what is going on. We can take our approach for noticing fetal position as a clue to choose body balance and labor easing activities.

When someone says they did Spinning Babies®, I would expect that they understood the concepts, paradigm and anatomical appropriateness to match techniques and birth positions. Otherwise, they did a technique or techniques without the context of when and why, and in the big picture, how.

But there are some activities that are not safe in some situations, or they might not be safe. These are contraindications.

Let’s take a look at a few  techniques we recommend or have recommended at Spinning Babies®

We want everyone to know when to be careful or when to avoid doing a technique altogether.

You may know that Spinning Babies® arranges three particular techniques in an order we call the Three Sisters of BalanceSM. We love these three techniques as a base for body balancing and comfort. There are so many benefits to these three techniques!

Until late 2020, our Three Sisters of BalanceSM were:

  1. Rebozo Manteada – particularly abdominal sifting
  2. Forward-leaning Inversion
  3. Side-lying Release

Today, we have widened our lens and selected The Jiggle as the first Sister of Balance. But many people are using Rebozo abdominal sifting for relaxation. This is a wonderful technique but requires some wisdom. The full understanding of the Rebozo and pregnancy massage from Mexico and Central America comes through the generational lineage. Several studies on hospital use of the rebozo adapt some techniques in childbirth.

Overall these techniques are so effective for so many that you might suspect rainbows and flowers. But there are a few situations these should not be done. Let’s look at the dark side for a moment. We will learn something important.

To show cultural respect, today our Three Sisters of BalanceSM are:

  1. The Jiggle
  2. Forward-leaning Inversion
  3. Side-lying Release

When to Avoid a Technique

With any pregnant person experiencing bleeding in pregnancy, we do not recommend doing any of the variations of the Three Sisters of BalanceSM.

This includes earlier bleeding that has stopped. This is a webpage. Our workshops are general. Assessment is best done in person to avoid unfortunate, though rare, adverse events. Write to us, we record adverse events.

Use the very light touch in an abdominal release or standing release instead. Are they the same? No, but they have their own unique benefits which can add comfort and balance and promote optimal room in the womb for baby’s position along with our daily activities.

Done Wrong, a Rare Risk Is Possible When Using the Rebozo

Rebozo Manteada
Abdominal sifting with the Rebozo is widely used in pregnancy or early labor around the world for relaxation, comfort, or activating the parasympathetic nervous system where calm and good fetal growth may arise. Mexican midwives have shared this technique until the Rebozo has become widely used. At Spinning Babies® we have chosen to respect the rising presence of Indigenous midwives and healers who are of the Rebozo lineage and bring much expertise. I include the following as a public service to parents who have doulas or midwives using the Rebozo with them who are not skilled Indigenous midwives with a life time of Rebozo knowledge.

Abdominal sifting involves lifting the belly with a cloth. Because the belly is lifted and then sifted, even though sifting gently, any bleeding that is not related to cervical dilation in labor is contraindicated.

Please be careful doing abdominal sifting when the placenta is anterior, or in between the baby and the abdomen. This is not an absolute contraindication. It is a warning due to a couple of extreme events when the placenta began to come away from the uterine wall.

  • Do not try to change baby’s position with this technique. General use is for relaxation.
  • Do not let someone be vigorous with you.
  • Jerking of one end of the Rebozo is not recommended at Spinning Babies® because knowing details of fetal position, preparation with massage (Sabado), and other subtle skills are required before a jerk of the cloth can be sure to be safe.

We support the Parteras and Healers of Mexico and Central America who learned the Rebozo from their elders and have life long experience.

Forward-leaning Inversion

Forward-Leaning Inversion
The Forward-leaning Inversion is an amazingly effective technique for balancing the cervical ligaments. We’ve increased the clarity of how to do the steps in and out of the inversion. The website lists benefits and contraindications as well.

  • High blood pressure (hypertension) or an inability to regulate changes in blood pressure (POTS)
  • Recent surgery
  • Weak or very tight shoulders increase a risk of falling
  • Any other medical reason not to go upside down.
  • Not being confident in the choice to do an inversion is enough of a reason not to do one.
  • Glaucoma might be a reason not to do inversions. Weinreb warns not to do inversions with glaucoma (1984). Jasien reports that pressure changes aren’t significant and more studies could be done before knowing whether inversions are contraindicated (2015). We have glaucoma on the contraindication list but this may be shown in time to be acceptable.

Side-lying Release

  • Sidelying Release

Don’t do the Side-lying Release when there is

  • Hypermobility is a contraindication for doing the Side-lying Release.
  • Severe spasming in the round ligament, address the pain first with the Webster Maneuver or, if known how, a gentle release of the ligament yourself.
  • Discomfort in the bottom hip or leg is typically corrected by repositioning the bottom hip so that alignment is better.

People who are hyper mobile can bend their thumb to their forearm or reverse their knees and elbows slightly. Alternatives to body balancing can be addressed by professional body workers.Wearing a pregnancy belt will support the belly in this case or any situation which would increase comfort by doing so. A small pillow under the belly isn’t appropriate because when positioned correctly for Side-lying Release there won’t be room for the pillow.

 

The Jiggle

Expanding our first Sister to the level of The Jiggle acknowledges the fascia receptor for vibration. As gentle as we teach the jiggle we don’t expect any contraindications.

  • Don’t annoy someone with a distracted jiggle, being too vigorous, or touching them without consent, calm presence or consistency.

That’s all, common sense.

 

Squatting

Be mindful of squatting in the first trimester. See our suggestions or go check out Katy Bowman in Nutritious Movement.com

Dip the Hip

This is a great technique but takes finesse. Don’t jerk someone around if you are the helper. Slow works (with repetition) better than doing it fast.

Conclusion

In general, safety measures and respectful pacing reduce unwanted effects.

Being aware of medical contraindications means being aware of medical conditions.

A doula who may be suggesting techniques might learn much about the pregnant client by taking a moment after describing the technique, its purpose, and benefits as well as contraindications. A pause at this time can come with these or similar words, “Take a moment to consider whether this technique is right for you” or “Check in with your body to see if this technique feels right for you.”

When there is a medical, preference, or practical reason not to do a technique, find an alternative. The alternative may not be as effective, for instance, nothing untwists torsion around the cervix like the Forward-leaning Inversion. Several other techniques might be necessary to achieve comparable benefits to a Side-lying Release. You’ll find your way to add balance with techniques that are available. Look at the page explaining the technique for alternatives.
I hope by knowing the contraindications you will feel confident with the techniques recommended at Spinning Babies®. And with them, you experience the brightness of physiological birthing in more gentle experiences of spontaneous births.

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