Saturday, January 8, 2011

How I came to be the Spinning Babies Lady


Leslie Lytle, a sponsor for the Spinning Babies and Resolving Shoulder Dystocia Workshops in Richmond, VA this year (2011) asked me how I came to the concepts behind my approach.

I didn’t come through academia. The community called me out.
In the hospital, I saw babies handled at birth with no understanding of their awareness and impressionable emotions. My desire was for babies to have someone there to welcome them, someone who recognized their sentiency. Observing birthing women, I became enamored with their ability to transform self impressions into the strength and tenacity (when sometimes needed) to give birth. To witness women birthing themselves into a new woman is also miraculous!

The first midwives to take me with them to births had me watch several births before giving me a role to play. Observing mothers and listening to the metaphors of midwifery and observing mothers again, I could check my beliefs with what I was observing.
Given the frequency of posterior labors,
I quickly found I wanted more information about how I might help better when women experienced a particularly long or obstructed labor.

Penny Simkin helped us all, in the birth movement, immensely by bridging the jewels of physical therapy with the benefits of emotional support. Together with the other founders of DONA International (and parent, doulas and doula supporters across the world now), she deserves much of the credit for making the continuous presence of the doula the greatest innovation in childbirth in the 19th century.

I began Spinning Babies to communicate the
teaching of midwife Jean Sutton (Optimal Foetal Positioning), and leader Penny Simkin (The Labor Progress Handbook) through a traditional midwife perspective.
While Jean Sutton and Pauline Scott's Optimal Fetal Positioning includes pregnancy and labor activities and postures to enhance progress, I still heard from a group of women that “did everything” and still needed a cesarean. Why?

When the answers within the culture of birth didn’t satisfy, I opened myself to other communities. In the world of bodywork, Carol Phillips, DC helped me understanding how fetal rotation can be enhanced or hampered by maternal balance. Observing her techniques in the births of my mothers, I found the answer I was searching for - that Balance may need to be restored before maternal posture or activities can be effective in this minority of birthing women. From Liz Koch I learned more about the Psoas, and from Collette Crawford, the benefits of certain yoga routines for pregnancy.

Many, many midwives, doulas, doctors, nurses, yoga teachers, and body workers have contributed to my understanding. Most notably my friend, Jan Hofer, midwife to over a 1,000 (remarkable for the state of Minnesota) who gave me the most lovely example of how a midwife can be with women.

Most importantly I learn from the mothers and babies I continue to observe.
One very important “ah-ha” moment came after connecting extended shoulders to a long arc rotation after yet another shoulder dystocia. In a long arc rotation an OP baby rotates to OA,
usually in labor, before the birth of the head. I began an in depth, and expediently experiential, exploration of Resolving Shoulder Dystocia techniques.


By addressing the baby’s rotation and descent in a series of techniques that simulate the natural progression of labor, success is increased (and injuries lessened) for both obstructed labors and shoulder dystocia (arguably also an obstructed labor, right?)


Seeking the “truth” in birthing offers many humbling and corrective discoveries that bit-by-bit increase the accuracy of my interpretations. I don't expect to reach the ultimate understanding, or a 3-Point Birth Methodology.

Rather, I present this material to learn this material. And in sharing, preserve some of the unique perspective of traditional birthing with women, couples, and birth practitioners of all kinds. Together, we can uphold the sanctity of birthing; physical, emotional and spiritual.

And that's what being the Spinning Babies Lady means to me.

Changing the Earth by supporting Birth

Mothers bring forth life; medical corporations do not. Birth can be simple, powerful and loving. Fetal positioning, natural birthing and practical help for normal birth.