Monday, December 31, 2007

Äpfel schütteln

"Komm, wir wollen Apfel schütteln,
Äpfel schütteln;

alle Kinder helfen rütteln.
Ria, ria, ria, rums."

This German children's song would be perfect to sing while shaking a woman's hips with your hands in labour. One of the many indigenous practices used for centuries to loosen the pelvic muscles and ease a baby's journey through the pelvis, "shaking the apples" works really well with first time mums in early labour, as well as multips as they approach birth.

I heard the term "Äpfel schütteln" used by an older German midwife about 15 years ago. We were in the attic of an old Kitsilano house, trying to fix the malposition of a baby late in labour. My client had hit a plateau at 8 cm, and, after a good half hour of vigourous hip shaking by the midwife, the woman said, "Did you hear that thunk?!" Then the labour took off, we all dashed to the hospital, and the baby was born.

I "shake the apples" to help second-time mums release muscles and allow the baby to be born. Sometimes, it just takes a two-minute shake, then she says, "It's coming!" Most times, she's sure the shaking knocked at least half an hour off the labour time.

Think of the speed that a paint can shakes in the machine at the hardware store...or the speed of a woman's hips during a Tahitian dance...

And it feels so good!


Anonymous said...

I am new to the Doula world... this was done for my first birth and the woman loved it, said it relieved lots of pain! Thanks for the tip!

Lara said...

I've never heard of this before, but will certainly keep it in mind for future pregnancies--what fun imagery, especially for anyone who has actually shaken an apple tree to reap the harvest!

maureen.munroe said...

As one of the lucky recipients of Jacquie's apple-shaking, it feels great, and it works! It really helped loosen my brain up as well - granting permission to be 'shaken' felt a lot like I was giving baby permission to get lower and lower and finally come and join us. Such a beatiful thing!