Resolving The Rotation Trauma of the Birth Process

By John A. Speyrer


The information furnished herein
is not meant as a complete guide
of instructions for constructing the
device described. The website
owner is not responsible for any
injuries which may occur to the
user of such a device based on any
information contained in this page.

While not one of the most painful elements of the birth process for the majority of us, the external rotation of the fetus getting in position to be born can be traumatic. Besides emotional problems this particular birth trauma can set one up for a lifetime of pelvic wall muscular tension and painful hip and lower back pain. It did for me.

I have always felt, and still feel, that having a therapist is the best route to feeling one's early traumas; having a buddy with whom to feel is second best; and primalling alone is, wel l. . . not the way to go. Yet, there are many who insist on doing their work, even birth work, alone. It makes me wonder just how much primal pain they are avoiding without even knowing it! One's body is often reluctant to begin the exploration of feeling severe traumas. All I can do is exhort those feeling birth material to see a therapist occasionally if this is at all possible. He who has himself as a patient, may have a fool for a client. Just kidding! It may not be that bad, but then, it could be. The rewards for seeing a therapist occasionally will be that you may very well access material you have not felt before and that the material you access will be felt deeper. Never underestimate the power of your defenses!

Even though feeling physical aspects of birth solo may not be a goal for us, it sometimes becomes necessary because of financial considerations or living too far away from a therapist. For you inveterate self-primalers, here is a device I constructed about a year ago and have been using for years thereafter for feeling the rotation of my body which happens immediately before birth and during expulsion of the fetus' body.

I have always needed a lot of pressure to connect to my physical birth feelings. I have always had a lot of body pain -- muscles, ligaments and bone -- but never met a therapist willing to give me the amount and type of pressure I needed. An elbow poke or the pressure of stuffed pillows just would not be what I wanted. It was just not enough. I needed the type of pressure which would feel like slightly pliable plastic. I never blamed the therapist since I realized that the therapist would not want to be responsible for any injuries.

I had my first completed primal relating to hip tension at one of Dr. William Emerson's birth trauma workshops near New Orleans last year. While being full-body pressured to induce a birth primal feeling I noticed an insistent need to turn under the pressure. I had these feelings many times before, but this time it was accompanied by a lot of hip tension. As I turned my upper body during the birth primal my lower body (hip area on down) was restrained. The result of this torso/pelvic torsion movement was a release of hip area tension and at that moment I knew for certain the source of years of pelvic muscle and lower back myalgia, and suspected it was also the origin of many urological problems.

When I returned home, I occasionally felt the need to re-experience the "turning in the birth canal" feeling which I had had at William Emerson's workshop. I tried getting under various pieces of furniture at home to repeat the action and this helped to some extent, but the pressure or the height of the furniture was not correct. Some furniture was too heavy - some was not heavy enough; some furniture was heavy enough but too soft.

I felt that whatever I was using to pressure my hip area was not mimicing the pressure conditions of the birth canal enough to optimize conditions for connection to the feeling. It was then that I decided to attempt to build some device to help in connection with re-experiencing this particular birth trauma.

I constructed a two and one-half foot box with a movable cover which I have been successfully using to aid in re-experiencing this torso/pelvic torsion birth trauma. I originally had used a hinged wooden cover made of regular wood but found that the force broke the wood and if I used thicker wood the material was not pliant enough to "give" when my hip pressed against the lid of the box. Substituting two thin sheets of laminated plywood screwed together for the cover solved both problems.

Here is what the device looks like, first opened, then closed:

The third photo shows the position to place yourself to begin the twisting movement. (Unfortunately, I neglected to tell the "model" that his arms were to be placed anywhere outside of the box!) The lowered cover of the box fits snugly and impedes full body movement enough to strain pelvic wall and hip muscles for connection to the trauma and subsequent relief. Naturally, discomfort is necessary for connection, but the cover, partially lined with carpeting material, allows as much pressure as is necessary for resolution. If nails instead of wood screws are used to construct the device, I suggest also using angle iron brackets to fasten the bottom plate. Heavy duty hinge(s) should be used to fasten the cover to the side of the box. The cover is held into place on the opposite side by a heavy duty hasp.

Since I originally wrote this article I have been re-thinking about how the device should be constructed. The way the device appears, it would have to be used for feeling the "struggle and fail" attempt at rotation. However, a time soon arrives where one needs to re-experience the "struggle and succeed" phase of the birth feeling and the way the box is constructed this would be impossible since a person would not be able to turn in the device while continuing the hip pressure.

I have arrived at "struggle and succeed" phase of my rotation trauma re-living. What I believe I now need is a device which would allow me to feel the constraints in turning but in the end be able to complete the rotation while retaining pressure throughout the maneuver. Because of the difficulty in constructing the device with variable heights, it may be easier to build another box with perhaps twice the height as the first described. (You would have to measure your hip height while lying vertically.) This box would have to retain the feeling of pressure in the earlier described model, but would allow the primaler to complete the rotation while still under sufficient pressure. Perhaps a "one size fits all" approach would work by having the two vertical plates of different heights. Hummmm! Back to the workshop!

I did build such a device and it was simpler to construct since the hinge and hasp were not needed. One can slip into the box at its wider opening and place oneself in that part which approximates the pressure needed.

These instructions are really useless as the person needing to use the device would intuitively know how to use it the moment it is seen. I wrote this article because I want to share what other primalers what I was doing device-wise to help my process along. I don't believe that others who are feeling their birth pain should bother constructing a "rotation box." If and when you need one will be time enough to begin the project.


Particularly as a child, but less so as an adult, whenever I would have a fever (minimum body temperature of about 102 degrees) I would be "bothered" by nauseating and dying feelings of vivid memories or images of a white sheet whose center was being twisted tighter and tighter; the tighter it would twist, the worse I would feel. At maximal twisting, the psychological discomfort was extreme. Then the experience would begin again. It was many years before I realized that the device explained above was related to the hallucinatory images I had endured as a child during febrile episodes.

At a primal workshop in New Orleans I finally had the insight that the incident was the trauma which had encouraged the building of the rotation device. The sheet had been the sheet on the bed on which my mother laid when I was born. Because of the onslaught of birth memories being triggered by fever, I believe the memory was mostly symbolic because of the lowering of my defenses due of high fever and coupled with severe birth trauma.

I identified with the sheet because it was the first thing I had seen after exiting my mother's body while being twisted by the torturous external rotation of my body. in this partial hallucination I was always nauseous but as with the original event there was nothing I could do to stop the waves of physical and emotional pain and revulsion I was experiencing during birth.

-- For the complete story, by the author, from which this excerpt was taken see Perinatal Agonies

  • For an interesting account of the way a device a therapist uses to help resolve the inversion trauma (being held upside down immediately after birth) of his clients, see - Inversion and Inversion Primals - in The Art of Primal Midwifery by Hal Geddes.

  • Also read my article, Between the Mattress and the Box Spring: Pressure As Comfort

  • When I read neurologist Oliver Sack's, An Anthropologist On Mars, I was intrigued by the story of Temple Grandin, an autistic woman, who was able to obtain a Ph.D. in spite of her social interaction and learning disabilities. She has invented chutes and other devices used in the cattle industry and is a consultant in that industry. What really intrigued me was her invention of a "squeeze machine" or "hug box" for herself (She also invented one for cattle).

    I have an opinion as to why the full body squeeze has a tranquilizing effect on Temple Granger. Read the story

    Why do you believe the device is helpful for her?

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