One of the biggest themes we teach through our work with hypnobirthing mums and mums-to-be at The Calm Birth School is the power of being able to relax deeply on demand.
This is such an important skill to harness during your pregnancy as it will help you immensely during your labour. Increasing your chances of having a more comfortable and enjoyable birth experience.
So why does being able to relax help so much?
It’s probably easier to look at the opposite of relaxation, which is tension or stress. When a woman is birthing, if she is feeling tense or stressed, the body releases the hormone adrenaline. This sends a signal to the brain there is something in the immediate area that could potentially cause danger to either mum or baby. The physical response of this is to divert blood away from the uterus and send it to the hands and feet which would allow us to either run or fight to defend ourselves from danger, this is known as the fight or flight response. Whilst this is a helpful self-defence mechanism it’s not great for a calm, comfortable and quick labour as the natural process of birth slows down, as the muscles tense and the necessary blood and oxygen required to keep the uterus moving and the cervix dilating is being utilized else-where in the body.
Being able to relax on demand is the perfect antidote to stress and tension in the body. When we practice relaxation on a daily basis during our pregnancy, the skill becomes instinctive for us to draw upon during birth. So here are 10 relaxation tips and techniques for you to start utilizing now for you to create a relaxing pregnancy and a positive birth experience.
We use several great breathing techniques to help our Mums at The Calm Birth School, one of my favourites has been adapted from 7/11 breathing. Where all you have to do is breathe in for the count of 7 and out to the count of 11. This works with whatever numbers you’d like to use as long as you the exhalation is almost twice as long as the inhalation. Try it with 3/6 and 4/7, if 7/11 feels too long.
If you like to be touched massage can be a great way to soothe and smooth the tensions and stresses of the day away. Whether you choose to indulge with your partner or enlist the help of a professional, masseuse is a great de-stresser.
Meditation is known to ease tension and anxiety some people choose to focus on the breath, other people are key phrase or music, there are so many different ways to meditate. Find one that works for you and see how much easier it is to relax and remain tension free in your everyday life.
Getting out from behind your desk and out into nature for a walk. Will produce lots of the happy hormones known as endorphins which help to ease stress and tension and allow us to relax.
Have a bath and if baths aren’t so much your thing then a shower can be equally effective during pregnancy to help with de-stressing easing out tight and contracting limbs.
Whether you’re pregnant or not is super effective way to relax, let go of any stresses or concerns for the day as you focus on moving your body and being present in the moment. Prenatal yoga, swimming, Pilates, and dance are all great for pregnancy.
Just have a rest. If you’re running around like a mad thing, particularly if you have an older child to look after find a friend, ask your partner for some time out to switch off. Having time to yourself to for no other reason than you just want it can be one of the best relaxants.
Did someone say pamper package? I’ve already mentioned massage, but there are lots of other amazing treatments that you can consider to help you relax during pregnancy, from facials, aromatherapy, acupuncture, and reiki to name a few.
The body responds very powerfully to visual imagery particularly when used in combination with emotions. Taking time out to imagine birthing comfortably. Seeing all of your muscle groups relaxing as you stay calm and at ease during your birth, while breathing deeply is a fantastic way to relax during your pregnancy and prepare for yourself mentally for your birth experience. Through the use of visualisation you are able to create neural pathways in the brain that lead to instinctive responses during real life situations that look similar to what you have been imagining. This is why sports people choose to visualise their performances months in advance of competitive event. It works just as effectively in the labour room as it does on a golf course.
Prepare and Educate:
Aside from the physical stress of pregnancy and the pending birth, one of the things that can keep us feeling stressed and tense when we could be feeling relaxed and at ease. Is the fear of the unknown. Whilst it’s completely normal to feel apprehensive about the journey you are about to embark on, by choosing to both educate and prepare yourself with an antenatal education such as hypnobirthing, not only do you learn about the physical process of birth and how to work with your body, but you will also learn numerous tools and techniques that will teach you how to stay relaxed and at ease during both your pregnancy and birth.
To find out more on how hypnobirthing can help you, check out: www.thecalmbirthschool.com/freehypnobirthing-2016