Forward Leaning Inversion
Forward Leaning Inversion was first described as being useful for birth by Dr Carol Phillips, a Cranio-Sacral Practitioner from America. It is a core technique taught by many birthing biomechanics practitioners around the world.
With the technique, the birthing person is going upside down, which changes the direction of gravitational forces on the uterus and its ligaments. This allows for space in the lower uterus and for the utero-sacral ligaments and uterus itself to unwind like the cord of a hairdryer when it is tangled.
The FLI is thought to work differently to the yoga posture downward dog, allowing the utero-sacral ligaments to release in a different way. The coming back up and sitting upright for a number of breaths is just as important as the inverting part, as it allows settling of tissues into a more comfortable position, after the stretching of the uterosacral ligaments has occured with the inversion.
It is common for people to feel a bit of pounding in the head. This will reduce with practice. If you need to start with a shorter inversion and build up for your comfort, then just invert for a shorter time.
It is best to practice the forward leaning inversion daily or weekly in pregnancy to help allow the lower uterus, cervix and ligaments space in order to settle in a comfortable position before the baby is attempting to descend during labour.
High Blood Pressure
Bleeding during pregnancy or a known placental issue where inversion is not recommended by your practitioner
Polyhydramnios (excess fluid around the baby)
Increased stroke risk
Inability to support oneself in this position
It can be unpleasant with heartburn and nausea so avoid after eating
It can also be very uncomfortable if you have a sinus infection
If you don't feel like it - always trust your instinct
if the baby has had frantic, vigorous movements – always get checked out if this occurs, if inversion causes unexpected pain or severe headache – seek help
No need to use if labour is progressing normally, if there has been abundant fluid in labor and the baby is high at -2 station or above, and the water has released with the baby’s head high (in which case, open the pelvic brim with Abdominal Lift and tilt, Walchers or alternatives, Flying Cowgirl)
When to Use:
Regularly in pregnancy, each day or week - especially if any discomfort in the pelvis, pelvic ligaments or previous history of car accident or emergency stop manouvers
Also helpful to reduce back pain, hip pain, or tailbone pain.
Useful for improved foetal positionin
Can be used when there are strong contractions but no progression in dilation – When the baby is -2 to 0 and not progressing, this can allow space for the cervix and lower uterus by "lifting" the baby and allowing the cervix and lower uterus room and the baby to realign, ready to engage again. Helpful for swollen cervix, asynclitic baby, deep transverse arrest or if the baby is not coming down.
How to do the Technique:
1. Kneel at the edge of a firm but comfortable surface e.g bed, sofa, step or chair
2. This can be done alone but may feel safer with a companion to be close by to support and reassure
3. Moving slowly, walk your hands and forearms down to the floor or lower surface
4. Come to rest on your forearms, hands can be clasped together forming a triangle space in which your head can hang freely, chin tucked in towards your chest slightly, but not touching anything
5. Remain in this position for three full relaxed breaths in and out (around 30 seconds*)
6. Walk back up with your hands, pushing into an upright kneeling position, your companion can help to guide your shoulders
7. Rise straight up on your knees, bottom off your heels and remain here for a few breaths. Imagine you are being lifted through the crown of your head, lengthening through your spine
8. You can then sit back on your heels to rest, to come out swing your legs round together like a mermaid,avoiding stressing the pelvis
How to Make it Easier:
A helper can place a scarf around your thighs and lean back strongly to take your weight as you go forward into the inversion
Alternatively or in combination with the above, a helper can guide and support your shoulders as you are lowering and raising from the position