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Side-Lying Release


The Side-Lying Release 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 lying on their side, close to the edge of a surface such as a bed or sofa. It is very important that the spine remains neutral and in line as if a rectangle could be drawn on the back between the shoulders and the hips which are stacked directly each other. If the spine is allowed to rotate, it does not allow for the static stretch of the pelvic tissues and surrounding muscles in the same way and is not as effective.


1. The birthing person is lying on their side with a pillow supporting their head so their spine is neutral, the neck is not tilted up or down, forward or back. Shoulders and hips are stacked and the back is a flat rectangle with no twist

2. A chair, table, other furniture, bed rail or person is at the head end so the birthing person can hold on to feel safe and not allow the top part of their body to rock forward or back

3. The birthing person must be right to the edge of the bed, couch or sofa, their bump may come over the edge. They must be close enough that their top leg will not touch when it is relaxed over the edge

4. The companion stands with feet facing towards the birthing person’s bottom, tummy to tummy, knees soft, one leg behind the other, so they are out of the way for the leg to hang freely

5. The birthing person straightens their bottom leg, heel pushing away from the body, toes lifted towards the knee

6. The companion holds the front of the bony pelvis with hands placed one over the other, heel of the hand over that bony prominence (ASIS), fingers placed over the top and a downward pressure into the couch (this stretches ligaments inside the pelvis). Prevent any forward rotation of the birthing person (you can introduce a gentle rock if this feels nice)

7. The birthing person lifts their own top leg, up and over the lower leg and edge of the bed, then slowly lowering the leg, hanging loose towards the floor. Stay in this position for 5-10 mins until a loosening or lengthening is felt. (In labour hold for 3 contractions each side), Companion, keep the back as a straight rectangle, no rotation.

8. Repeat on the other side to allow for balance – notice if there is a difference and work on this during your pregnancy or seek the help of a bodyworker

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