Friday, February 9, 2007

How to do an inversion

An inversion is a technique for relaxing the lower uterine ligaments. It also helps a breech baby flip upside down. I learned the technique from Carol Phillips, a skilled chiropractor and craniosacral therapist who is knowledgeable in the birthing process.

The Spinning Babies Website lists a number of reasons a pregnant woman might do an inversion. See "Using the inversion in late pregnancy." This blog tells you how.

If you have questions about your situation, you may look at SpinningBabies.com for answers. I can't answer questions from the blog easily. You may email me, but if the answer is on the website, I will direct you there rather than answer. Thank you for considering the immense amount of time I offer to answer needs. A simple email is so much faster than a blog post to get to and to answer.


Do the inversion if you feel athletic enough. Don't do it if you have trouble breathing, with asthma, for instance. Ask your caregiver if there is any medical reason you shouldn't do this. Don't do it right after your breech baby has turned head down.

1. Have a helper to brace your shoulders so you don't come down from the couch too fast.
2. Have your knees on the edge of the couch.
3. Come down slowly.
4. Brace yourself on your forearms.
5. Relax your belly.
6. Relax your neck and head.
7. Hold the pose for 30 seconds for a head down, posterior baby, or a minute for a breech or transverse baby, if you can. Start with shorter times in the pose and work up to 30 seconds.
8. Crawl forward, bringing one knee down to the floor and then the other.
9. Come to your hands and knees.
10. Sit up, on your heels and catch your breath.
Crawl around the room helping the weight of the womb settle forward.

Watch a 2 minute movie:

Emily and Ludvig are 36 weeks pregnant (8 months) and their baby has turned sideways -- into a transverse lie. See a photo of the transverse lie fetal position earlier on this blog. Emily uses the inversion to help relax her cervical ligaments that may be tight and twisting her lower uterus. There are other reasons that a baby may lie sideways in the womb, but this is a common reason, and one that Emily can do something about. She is also seeing a chiropractor and a midwife. She may also visit a craniosacral therapist or Maya massage therapist. She'd like to have a natural birth, so it is important that the baby turn head down.

New: How can you tell if it worked?
A baby in a transverse lie is lying sideways and the mother's belly, in the last trimester of pregnancy, generally looks wider side-to-side than top-to-bottom.
When the baby does move into a vertical position the womb will look different.

Once head down, kicks will be strongest above the navel towards the ribs, and there will be suddenly more pressure in the pelvis. There may or may not be twinges in the cervix. The sides of the womb won't bulge, but one side may have a large mass of firm baby (the back) while the other MAY have limbs. Alternatively, there may be limbs on both sides and "all over" the front without such an obvious firm side when baby faces the front.
Learn more at Belly Mapping.

25 comments:

Lu said...

Does this really work? I have been told my baby is in breech position with legs stretched out towards body (33 weeks) I really really really do not want a ceasarean and am prepared to try anything... i am walking daily, swimming and using an exercise ball (hoola hop movements).I will try anything to get this little one to move round!

Spinning Babies Lady said...

Dear Lu,
Walking and sitting on a birth ball to do hula hoops may move your baby's bottom deeper into your pelvis.

Instead, you may like to try the commonly suggested breech tilt, or an inversion.

When you swim, can you try a hand stand in water that is about as deep as your arm pits? That's an inversion in deep water for counter pressure.

The web site has many other suggestions for helping a breech baby flip head down. Please look over the suggestions and do as many as you feel comfortable with as soon as you can.

I've written a lot about breech and will let you read that, rather than re writing.

But do try something to soften the broad and round ligaments and ask a Chiropractor to get your sacrum, symphasis pubis and neck in alignment. Then the inversion, as shown here, for the length of three long breaths, crawling forwards afterwards and kneeling upright to swing the womb vertically and make a gentle swoosh of water.

Let me know what you pick and how you are doing it.
Blessings on your birth,
Gail

d4mcgowen said...

I just found this technique and it looks useful. I am 30 weeks and am very interested in any exercises that may help my frank breech baby turn. My only concern is doing anything that may cause the cord to loop around his neck. What are your views?

mytaylor06 said...

i am 35 weeks and 2 days pregnant and my baby is breech. i am very petite and i wonder will this help turn my baby. how many times do i do it and how do i know if the baby turned head down?

Spinning Babies Lady said...

Will going upside down make the cord go around baby's neck?

This hasn't been studied as far as I know.

Since nearly 1/3 of all babies are born with the cord around the neck it might be hard to know if someone's inversion caused the nuchal cord or if the cord were already around the neck before the inversion.

Please don't do anything you don't feel comfortable doing.

Spinning Babies Lady said...

mytaylor06,
I invite you to look at the information about breech on my website...
I have a complete description of how to do the inversion under What to do when, also.
You can consult your caregivers, stopping by even before your next appt. if you think your baby has flipped.
You may or may not feel your baby flip.
You can also view Belly Mapping on my site and see if you yourself can identify the baby's position.

nancy said...

I just found out today that my baby turned breech (at 37 weeks). I tried the inversion technique on your website and felt hiccups low on abdomen. Does this mean that the baby has turned? It's so hard to figure out where the head and bum is just by feeling around. It all kind of feels the same to me. I'm wondering if location of hiccups can help indicate the location of the head....

Missy said...

I am 36wks 1day. I had my Dr appt yesterday & my Dr is telling me that my baby is transverse. I of course am very upset about this. I want nothing more than a natural birth.
My question is this Do you think my Dr could be wrong on the position of the baby? When the baby has hiccups its very low, down towards my left hip. To me I wouldn' think that would say its transverse. Would it make the baby flip the wrong way if I were to start doing this exercise? Thank you for your input.
Missy

Spinning Babies Lady said...

Missy,
while its possible that a doctor or midwife could be wrong about a baby's position, it isn't a good coping choice to assume so. Doing the inversion for a very short time, 30 seconds, doing it correctly, and doing it repeatedly is unlikely to be harmful. You can ask your doctor if there is any medical reason for you not to do an inversion. I can't see you, so I can't advise you.
However, when a transverse baby has been transverse for a long while, they are not likely to become head down without some body work. An inversion is a way you can meet some of the same goals as with body work: the release of tension in the broad, round and cervical ligaments holding the womb in such a way that the baby isn't head down.
Watch the video carefully. See if this is right for you. I hear from many women that it worked for them.

michelle said...

Thank you for all your advice. I was told yesterday (nearly 37 weeks) that my boy's now breech and am waiting for a scan in 5 days. I'm going to do the inversion but I've no idea how I'm going to tell if it's worked before then unless he starts kicking in the right places. Your website is marvellous too : )

louisebarter said...

Gail,
I'm 32 weeks pregnant with my third baby and it has been breech for a couple of weeks now. Have been using the open knee chest position every day but so far to no avail. Having been on your spinning babies website I am about to try an inversion. My question is, is the baby likely to turn DURING an inversion, or will regular use of inversion make the baby turn at some other point? I am quite happy upside down for a while, but am kind of hanging there thinking 'is something supposed to happen soon?'
Thanks for your help

Spinning Babies Lady said...

Louise,
The forward leaning inversion seems superior in effect to the open-knee chest position for purposes of letting the uterus hang from teh cervical ligaments and by doing so, stretch those lower ligaments and when you get up the relaxation that ensues will then relax the ligaments. Eventually, with repetition, which varies in each woman, the lower uterine segment becomes more symmetrical, untwisted, and the baby can get his or herself into a better birthing position.
At 32 weeks, the inversion is a good idea, though the baby may flip without doing anything, its true. A forward leaning inversion adds things to the favor of a head down fetal position.
I've seen it work immediately with a woman who was pregnant with her 6th, and therfore had a loose uterine tone that helped her baby to reposition quickly. Others have done this 3 to dozens of times. IT all depends on your bodies need for relaxation of involunatary muscles, so you can't mentally relax and "make" it happen, or is just gravity needed? Usually its relaxing and restoring the tone of the uterus and supporting ligaments.
30 seconds is the usual length of time, but if you know you have a breech baby you can extend the time to 2 minutes as you get used to the position.

louisebarter said...

Thanks for your reply Gail, I'm doing it 2 or 3 times a day now, so fingers crossed it will work soon! I just can't imagine not having a natural delivery and will do everything I can to avoid a c-section.

louisebarter said...

Gail,
Thank you, thank you, thank you, it has turned! Still posterior, but I am still only 34 weeks so plenty of time to work on that, but I've just seen my midwife and we are head down, ready to go. Just gotta keep it there now!
I passed on your web address to my midwife, she has some other women who are breech at the moment. I also did a little demo in the surgery, which panicked her a little!
Thank you again
Louise x

.:The McGuire's:. said...

thank you SO much for posting this! for the past couple i've been alot of pain but i didn't know that all the pain was coming from my son being transverse. i knew he was lying like that but i never knew it could cause all the pain it was causing. i was even sent to L&D to see if i was in preterm labor. at my follow-up OB appt she told me that if he didn't move that A.) i'd be in pain until i went into labor and B.) it'd be a mandatory c-section. i'm only 36 weeks along and was missing tons of work along with sleep and just turning into a nasty woman to be around in general. after leaving the OB's office and learning that this was the reason for all my pain, i texted my doula who told me to look up your website. after learning that our son was in a "transverse lying position" i found the video of the lady doing the modified headstand off the couch and decided to try it off a bed. i was able to hold the pose for (30) seconds but i didn't think anything had happened. my hubby checked the babies position and sure enough he was in the perfect occipital posterior position! it's been over (4) days now and he hasn't moved back so i'm praying we are safe.

thank you SO much for saving me all the pain of carrying him sideways and avoiding a c-section!!

.:The McGuire's:. said...

thank you SO much for posting this! for the past couple i've been alot of pain but i didn't know that all the pain was coming from my son being transverse. i knew he was lying like that but i never knew it could cause all the pain it was causing. i was even sent to L&D to see if i was in preterm labor. at my follow-up OB appt she told me that if he didn't move that A.) i'd be in pain until i went into labor and B.) it'd be a mandatory c-section. i'm only 36 weeks along and was missing tons of work along with sleep and just turning into a nasty woman to be around in general. after leaving the OB's office and learning that this was the reason for all my pain, i texted my doula who told me to look up your website. after learning that our son was in a "transverse lying position" i found the video of the lady doing the modified headstand off the couch and decided to try it off a bed. i was able to hold the pose for (30) seconds but i didn't think anything had happened. my hubby checked the babies position and sure enough he was in the perfect occipital posterior position! it's been over (4) days now and he hasn't moved back so i'm praying we are safe.

thank you SO much for saving me all the pain of carrying him sideways and avoiding a c-section!!

Jenn said...

I am 33.5 weeks pregnant w/ twins. I've been seeing a chiropractor for a little over a month now. Twin A is breech, Twin B is head down. But no doctor in my area will deliver a breech Twin A vaginally. Is there any hope for Twin A to turn, or to move up, to allow Twin B to be the presenting baby?

Spinning Babies Lady said...

Yes, Jenn, to your question,
"Is there any hope for Twin A to turn, or to move up, to allow Twin B to be the presenting baby?" Continue with a 30-second forward leaning inversion if you don't have medical contraindications. You may get the best results with adding myofascial release of your sacrum and abdomen and some craniosacral release by someone who knows birth and body balancing.
There are reasonable guidelines that Dr. Michel Odent and Lamaze International, etc. who shares with parents to wait for labor to begin on its own and not induce, or to conduct a needed cesarean (or "chosen"). This is the manner in which twins are cared for among Minnesota traditional midwives with many 40 week twin births progressing safely. Eat excellently! Dark leafy greens, high lean proteins, salt-to-taste, plenty of pure water, whole grains, etc.
Where is your location? Email me instead of posting here.

More physicians and midwives are attending breech births, at home and in the hospital, with physiologic breech birth (hands off!) with the mom in the "all fours" position -which is the position that protects the breech baby's ability to conduct the cardinal movements. There is likely to be an twins/breech-experienced physician or midwife within a reasonable drive.

Julie said...

HI! I am 35 wks/6 days and have been doing the inversion exercise I saw on the video for 1 week to try and get my transverse babe to head down.
Will you please post again (I cannot seem to find it) some of the signs that the baby may have turned?
Additionally, is there any sense to doing these exercises when baby is active vs sleeping/still?
Thanks SO much for this wonderful sight!

Spinning Babies Lady said...

Hi Julie,
A baby in a transverse lie is lying sideways and the mother's belly, if in the last trimester of pregnancy, looks wider side-to-side than top-to-bottom.
When the baby does move into a vertical position the womb will look different. If head down, kicks will be strongest above the navel towards the ribs, and there will be suddenly more pressure in the pelvis. There may or may not be twinges in the cervix. The sides of the womb won't bulge, but one side may have a large mass of firm baby (the back) while the other MAY have limbs. Alternatively, there may be limbs on both sides and "all over" the front without such an obvious firm side when baby faces the front.
I hope this description helps.

Alaskan Mom to be said...

I am 35 weeks and baby is transverse with it's feet in my right rib cage and head hanging out under my left breast area. I have been seeing a chiropractor & massage therapist and doing the inversion off the couch. The baby is very active, loves it when I eat or take a warm bath. My Dr. scared me so much with the threat of manual version by 37 weeks or scheduled C-section by 39 weeks. I have had such a beautiful, picture perfect pregnancy - of course I have my hopes up for delivery to be the same. This is our first baby and we are even waiting to discover the gender! I appreciate you website. I love to hear other mother's statements. I am just worried my baby has been in this position too long. I am trying to stay positive.

Spinning Babies Lady said...

Hi Alaskan Mom. Please email me so we can have a conversation. I'll have questions about your inversion frequency,type of body work, etc. Maybe we can figure out a personal approach for you.

A-K said...

Hi, I am 40 weeks pregnant with my 2d child (first one born naturally) and was told today by my OB that baby is now transverse. This was also confirmed by an ultrasound (at my last visit a week ago, baby was in the heads-down position and had been so for several weeks).

I have been given three more days to see if the baby will turn before my dr wants to schedule at C-section (at 40+3). I have already visited a trained acupuncturist and am doing the inversions on your site to try to prevent this. I would just like to know:
- How common is it for a transverse position to appear so late in the pregnancy, and what are the odds of turning the baby back down?
- Which of the inversions tend to be the most effective at 40 weeks, given the more limited room for the baby to move? The dr tried to externally manipulate the baby to move down today but failed.
Thanks so much for a lovely website!

Spinning Babies Lady said...

A-K,
I hear the surprise and challenge you are suddenly faced with.

I'm going to answer you and then throw in something else.
Why now, in late pregnancy? A baby will move from a good or reasonable position to a posterior, breech, oblique or transverse position in late pregnancy when there is

A.) an existing reason, usually a twist in the lower uterus or other reason the area of the pelvic inlet is compressed or twisted. Balance the area with the body work and inversions and baby will return to head down.

B.) The baby will pull away from the pelvis (tailbone) if something happened, such as a fall, a twist, an impact, or a significant emotional trauma or stress about parenting issues. It can happen to any of us. I'd say something like a long car ride can be the culprit.

If this is the case, addressing the trigger is likely to allow the baby to settle back in a head down position quickly.
Since your baby was transverse for less than a week, your chance of success is high unless there was a significant torsion event that has triggered old injuries as well.

How may times, how quick? As you read the comments left here, you'll see the range of success occurring from just one inversion, to three inversions, or more. I'd say it doesn't always work, though. But, it seems to work often.
I feel certain using this and other techniques (myofascial release, chiropractic and craniosacral therapy) would increase chances of success.
But I can't promise, of course.

I'd do the rebozo sifting, the forward-leaning inversion and follow it with the breech tilt with hot and cold pacs. Continue with acupunture and get adjusted and myofascial release.

How often does a baby go transverse at the end of pregnancy? This is very unusual.

Still, you are likely to get the baby head down even in three days with several short, very short forward leaning inversions and addressing the soft tissue cause, assuming that something was or became twisted near the cervix or brim.

A twist in the cervical ligaments will twist the lower uterine segment where the baby would like to put his or her head. Depending on the amount of twist the baby may back up and go transverse or breech. This is fixable with the right body work for you.

Now, read or skip, you didn't ask for the following idea:

Many first time mothers seem to begin spontaneous labor at 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant.

Do you feel that you can ask your doctor to postpone the cesarean?
Delaying the surgery implies you are taking added responsibility for your birth.
With a transverse baby, if your water were to break, get into a knee chest position until the doctor checks for a prolapsed cord (and rechecks baby's position) so the gush of amniotic fluid can't wash the cord down. The cord doesn't automatically come down, but its important to be cautious.

Other than that unusual but not so rare risk, when you go into labor you have time to get to the hospital - the baby can't get out. Starting labor or delaying the cesarean another week may help the baby in subtle ways and may give baby time to get head down.

Make your decision based on what feels right for you and after talking to your doctor to make sure there isn't a medical reason to do surgery earlier than later (high BP or something else).
Is convenience the most important thing to schedule your baby's birth around? If not, you might ask for a postponement.

Feel free to disregard this tangent if you aren't comfortable going there. There is so much you can take on, so be kind to yourself as you try to take on this challenge. You are doing the best you can with a suddenly complex situation. Keep breathing and talking to your baby. Together you will find your way to the other side of this temporary challenge.

A-K said...

Thank you so much, Gail, for giving me some concrete tips on things I can do to help turn my baby around.

As for postponing the c-section, I am glad you suggest this. In fact, I had actually already come to the same conclusion myself and asked my dr to postpone any intervention to allow me to go into labour naturally and take it from there.

Your point about waiting seemed especially valid to me as my first child was born naturally at 42 weeks, so thanks for reminding me of what already feels instinctively true for me! Yes, it does mean taking added responsibility for your pregnancy, but I believe that if more women felt confident to do just that we wouldn't have such alarmingly high rate of c-sections. Of course, it may still be necessary in the end, but then I would prefer to know that it truly was the last resort - certainly not a matter of convenience!

Thanks again,
AK

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