(By Gail Tully, spinningbabies.com)
The forward-leaning inversion is a classic here at Spinning Babies. The goal is to increase room in the lower uterine segment by releasing a tight or even spasming ligament. Real benefits are apparent for those babies lying sideways (transverse lie) after 30 weeks. There are also benefits for breech, oblique (diagonal lie), and posterior positioned babies. With more room in the lower uterus, the baby will often reposition without manipulation. Every healthy pregnant woman may benefit from 30 seconds of this steep inversion. Done correctly, the ligaments will respond! Be careful, read the details to find out who should and shouldn't do this.
Why do a daily inversion?
Balance. We want room for baby to settle head-down in the uterus. The goal of repeating the forward-leaning inversion every day is to release the utero-sacral ligament and give baby the extra room.
The lower part of the uterus can get a twist in it from poor posture habits or a sudden stop (accident, fall, or sports). This effect is not uncommon among women who twist to do their work (massage therapists, nurses, chiropractors, etc.) or who hold a child on one hip frequently. A twist in uterine ligaments can put the lower uterine segment into a slight twist which reduces the room for the baby to have a good head-down position. The baby needs more room to get in an ideal, or optimal fetal position.
How to Do a Forward-leaning Inversion
Give the utero-sacral ligament and other ligaments a stretch.
(Read below who should NOT do a forward leaning inversion!)
1. Kneel on the edge of a couch (or the top of the stairs)
2. Carefully lower yourself to your hands on the floor and then lower yourself to your forearms. Elbows out, hands close. Use a stool or step to help you walk your hands down.
3. Let your head hang freely. Your chin is tucked.
4. Your knees are close to the edge, your bottom is highest.
5. You can flatten your lower back (posterior pelvic tilt).
6. Take 3 breaths.
7. Come back up on your hands then lift yourself up to a kneeling position again, using a stool or block or helper.
Repeat daily. Just 30 seconds is long enough! That’s about 3 breaths.
Letting the uterus hang for 30 seconds from the uterine ligaments stretches these ligaments. Swinging back up relaxes the uterine ligaments and makes room in the lower uterine segment. With repetition, the womb becomes more balanced. (The uterus naturally tilts right, so here, balance means without an additional tilt or twist.)
When baby’s position is not ideal, help the uterus into a more symmetrical position and the baby will follow.
· Ask for help the first few times you try this.
· You can do this daily at any time in pregnancy – or before!
· Your head may pound a bit for the first few times you try it. Your body is signaling your unusual position!
· Use a stable surface where you can carefully lean forward to rest your forearms below your knees.
· Be sure to get up and down without tumbling -or twisting!
· Allow your head to be free to hang freely, chin tucked.
· If baby is breech, do the forward-leaning inversion for 30 seconds and then do the breech tilt for 5-20 minutes. Or, follow with the Open knee-chest position. Do not do Breech Tilt or OKC with a head down baby. When baby is breech, you may do the forward-leaning inversion for 30 seconds each, several times a day along with other techniques to flip a breech.
How not to do an inversion:
Do not crawl forward off the couch or bed one knee at a time. Instead, rise up and kneel on the top step, couch, or bed - or, slide both knees off together so you don't twist your sacrum and pull open one SI joint. That might cause pain then or later! Protect your SI joints by keeping your knees at the same level (which is not to say apart or together, the knees should be hip width apart).
Do not rest your thighs on the chair or couch. The ligaments are not released to the same degree -if at all.
Down Dog may not accomplish the same release. While Down Dog yoga pose is a great pose and beneficial in many ways, the tension of the hamstrings may prevent the same release as the forward-leaning inversion shown here. Also, in Down Dog, I wonder if the uterus rests on the symphysis pubis preventing the same stretch that the forward-leaning inversion allows in the cervical ligaments (posterior uterine ligaments).
When not to do the Forward-leaning inversion:
Right after eating (do it when you don't have a chance for heartburn),
If you have very high (or very, very low) blood pressure, or are otherwise at risk for a stroke,
There is so much amniotic fluid around your baby that your doctor monitors you weekly,
In pregnancy, the abdominal tone is unusually loose and your baby flips breech easily,
In pregnancy if there is a suspected or known problem with the placenta, including pain of an undetermined origin. Get assessed immediately.
If the baby is having or has had frantic, vigorous movements. Have the baby assessed immediately. Don't wait.
The inversion causes pain (remember, your head may pound a bit for the first few times, that's actually ok if mild), but abdominal pain other than round ligament stretching is not right. Severe headache must be evaluated by a physician immediately.
Your shoulders are too weak or too tight to support you in an inversion. Do other shoulder exercises first, including Down Dog.
In labor, if labor progress is normal.
In labor, if there had been abundant fluid, AND the baby is high, -2 station, and the water has released with baby’s head high, in which case open the pelvic brim with Walcher’s or a variation of Walcher’s,
You don't feel that this is right for you.