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 (veteran mums) as they approach birth.

I heard the term "Äpfel schütteln" used by an older German midwife in the early 1990's. 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 labouring woman asked, "Did you hear that thunk?!" Then the labour took off, we all dashed to the hospital, and the baby was born soon after arrival.

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 her water breaks and she calls out, "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!