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Views on "Spinning" Babies

The newest thing I've read on the internet is how spinning babies will put the fetus into an optimal birth position and prevent a stalled labor at 6 centimeters. A labor is only stalled at 6 cm's when a laboring woman is told she cannot push because she might pulverize her cervix, which is utter nonsense because at 6 cm's the baby has to rotate through the ischial spines in the pelvis and needs its mother's help to do that or the uterus and baby just get tired and labor stalls.

A lot of midwives are going to get some information that has the potential for moving babies out of the correct position into a wrong one that might end in cesarean. While there are some truths being promoted by this author of spinning babies, such as certain advantageous positions during labor (sitting on the toilet and raising one leg, which midwives have been doing for decades), and having mom lie on her side during labor to help move her baby, the advice to tilt during pregnancy is WRONG.

A midwife friend of mine in Utah called me last week (June, 2023) and was discouraged when she told me that she has had more transfers to the hospital with several of her laboring mothers, more than normal, and told me she didn't understand what was happening. The interesting, but sad fact is that most of these women had stood on their heads like spinning babies recommended and had delayed labor or pulled their baby out of position. Since when is anti-gravity normal?

Let's start with some stories of women in early labor who did just what this site advocates:

A local midwife was attending a woman who was in very early labor. She was a first time mother and her cervix was only dilated to 1-2 centimeters. But, she complained that she was in horrible pain even at this early stage. So, unbeknownst to her midwife, this mother got on-line and read what "Spinning Babies" had to say to relieve her pain.

Her baby was head down in an optimal position for birth. But, this mom decided to follow an exercise recommended at Spinning Babies to take the pressure off the cervix. So, she practically stood on her head and relieved her cervical pressure. The baby moved into an oblique/transverse position, a very un-optimal position for labor and birth. In other words, the baby moved up out of the pelvis.

When the midwife came back to her home to check on her progress, her contractions had stopped and the baby was nowhere to be found in the pelvis.

"What did you do?" asked the midwife of the mother.

The mother was reluctant to tell her that she had tilted on her stairs to relieve the pressure of normal labor, which the baby's head on the cervix helps to stimulate. A well fitting presenting helps contractions in a normal labor and birth.

It took 6-8 hours before the baby moved back down into position for birth. Her pain disappeared because her labor stopped altogether. This woman never had contractions closer together than every 20-45 minutes from start to finish.

The midwife began to fear a post-partum hemorrhage from a weak uterus, so she called me and asked me to attend this birth with her, just in case.

When I arrived at the mother's home, she was 9 centimeters dilated. She was exhausted from the long labor, including the time it took for the baby to return to it's head down position.

We asked the mom to get onto the floor, leaning back against pillows, and sitting on a clean shower curtain liner full of bed-pads to catch any fluids from the birth.

In a semi-sitting position with legs pulled out and up to either side (being supported by husband and a friend), this lifting the pubic bone and widening the pelvis as much as was possible, I instructed the mother to push despite not having a contraction. Pushing will start one. The adamancy of midwives today to NEVER tell a mother when to push is a derelict of duty on the midwife's part, as far as I am concerned. Old granny midwives from times past knew exactly what I'm talking about because they did the same things I have learned to do and no one criticized them for helping mothers to birth their babies. It was a matter of life and death back then and it still is today in many cases, or it means an unnecessary transfer to the hospital from home for a cesarean that did not have to be.

The mother pushed when I asked her to and her cervix went right to complete dilation- or ten centimeters. Then, she pushed her baby out into the world in a couple of pushes. There was no hemorrhaging from a tired uterus because we massaged the uterus and all was fine. Midwives are taught not to touch the uterus after birth, which indicates to me that a knowledge of anatomy and physiology is long overdue for most midwives practicing at home who are CPM's (CNM's have to study anatomy and physiology, among many other courses in college, in order to get their degree).

The other case which happened came to me the next day from another midwife:

This particular midwife had informed her client that her baby was presenting in a posterior position at her last pre-natal visit before labor started. This midwife's assistant had raved about Spinning Babies, so the midwife told the mom to check it out on-line to help the baby enter into a more favorable position.

The mom went on-line to Spinning Babies and followed the instructions on the website. She put her knees on the couch and lowered her head to the floor. When she went into labor the next day, after examination the midwife declared her to be 9 centimeters, but the baby's head had deflexed. The spinning, as they call it, had extended the baby's head (although the author claims that these procedures are supposed to flex the head) and what was presenting was an eye, ear, and brow in an asynclitic position.

The mother was transferred to the hospital. The doctor was in favor of allowing her to continue laboring without resorting to a cesarean first. He thought that the labor might force the baby into a correct position as the head went past the ischial spines. However, during a particularly very hard contraction, the mother arched her back and yelled out to the midwife, "This is hurting my baby- he needs to get born. I want a cesarean."

The midwife went and got the doctor and told him what the mom had said. He went back into the room and within 5 minutes, the baby's heart began to decelerate badly, resulting in an emergency cesarean. At birth, the baby's eye was black and blue and swollen shut. The forehead was shaped like that of a unicorn. Luckily, the baby was okay otherwise.

It is okay for mothers to push when they feel like, dilated completely, or not. I am challenging midwives to look at their teachings centered around the "rule of ten." We midwives, of all people, are supposed to be advocates of NORMAL, but what we are doing is anything but normal. I do not like to sound like I am unfairly criticizing other midwives, like the Spinning Babies author. But, some of what is being taught by her is very wrong, as these two cases illustrate.

TRUST YOUR BODY, TRUST BIRTH? Are midwives following their own mantras when they DO NOT trust that the baby knows why he/she is presenting the way he/she does for the optimal birth experience? Do midwives not realize that babies in utero have the innate wisdom to know which way he/she ought to enter into the pelvis?

Spinning Babies talks about when a labor stalls at 6 centimeters. Do you know why a labor stalls at 6 cm's? It is because the baby is now at that stage of labor when his/her head is trying to make the needed turns through the pelvis and his/her mother is not helping him/her to do that because she has been wrongly taught that to do so will hurt her cervix. This is not true at all.

Mom is delaying her labor by misinformation and her uterus is just plumb tired of doing all the work by itself, as is the baby.

Spinning babies? What exactly is spinning a baby? The picture above shows what spinning a baby is all about and it is the exact opposite of what is normal and natural in childbirth.

The spinning babies educators believe that all babies should enter into the mother’s pelvis in an anterior position, when in fact most babies enter the pelvis at the beginning of labor in a transverse and slightly posterior position.

The baby’s head is largest from the forehead to the back of its’ head and that is how the brim of the mother’s pelvis is shaped too.

TRUST BIRTH they all say! Are you really trusting in birth? After all the work the mother’s body has done, and all the effort the unborn baby has made to get into the position best suited for its’ labor and birth via gravity, yet is undone in the blink of an eye because you somehow think anti-gravity is the answer????

Another Mama was in labor- baby in good position- labor contractions coming every 5 minutes and each lasting the normal length of 45 seconds to a minute. Baby was descending as expected. But this mama had been reading about the spinning babies theory on the internet and had decided to stand on her head on her staircase before she called her midwife back who had checked her earlier.

But what happened after she tilted upside down was that her contractions stopped.

When the midwife returned and checked her again, she found the baby had moved completely out of the pelvis. The mama told her midwife what she had done after reading about spinning babies.

“Why did you do that?” asked her midwife.

“I just wanted my labor to go faster,” she replied. “I thought I was helping.”

The midwife called me to come and help get the baby back into position again so the labor could kick in again and this baby could be born.

I asked the mother to lie down on the floor, pull her knees back and spread them out (assistants were helping her hold them) and to push her baby back down as I checked her cervix during the next contraction.

It only took 3 or 4 such maneuvers to get the baby back down, and the baby was born soon after. But the mother had to push with each contraction to help her baby get born.

When I first checked the mother, her cervix was 6 cm’s, so it was easy to get the baby born quickly, but he had to be helped to get back into position. I heard of 2 more women who ended up with cesareans because the mothers had pulled their babies out of position by paying attention to fads that go completely against the natural order of things.

Another mother went way past her due date because she followed a fad that has zero basis in fact.

Babies will enter the pelvis in whatever way is best for them. If there is a short cord, or cord around the baby’s neck, or a knot in the cord, the baby will enter in an asynclitic (head is tilted) presentation because that is the only way the baby can enter the pelvis.

Spinning babies is dangerously messing with nature. They have been told this but have failed to respond to the midwife who wrote to them.

There are spinning baby classes being offered all over the internet. Such a shame when money becomes more meaningful than the truth!

Dr. Jacob Needleman, author and philosopher, calls our society a culture lost in materialism and technological change in which our lower nature has been sated over and over again, but in which the ancient traces of higher feelings are vanishing like so many fragile species. Our culture is saturated with money, says this professor of philosophy at San Francisco State University. We want it more than anything else, but the things that we’re supposed to buy no longer bring us joy: Home, family, education, travel, art, and the pursuit of knowledge. All those aspects of human life for which money was meant to serve as a means are more and more becoming drained of intrinsic meaning, and the only thing left that has any meaning is the money itself. We worship it like a golden calf. Money becomes more vivid, more intense than any of the experiences it brings.”

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