Relaxation during childbirth is the only way to counteract unnecessary pain and help your body do what it’s supposed to. Learning how to go against your natural reaction is quite easy, but can be difficult if not practiced beforehand. It is necessary in order for you to have a natural baby birth.
When that surge of a contraction starts to rise, your natural reaction is to tense up, hold your breath and maybe even panic until it has passed. These three things are exactly what you DON’T want to do.
Why? Because they increase your stress hormones, which causes your body to inhibit itself, thus leading down a pathway towards medical intervention.
What To Master For Relaxation During Childbirth
So how do you learn to do the right things to help your body relax and get through your labor effectively? It all comes down to your:
- Relaxation Technique
I’m going to touch on each of these, but a few points I have in greater details in other posts to send you to as well so that all points of view are covered.
Here’s a quick video about the realization that there are a myriad of options to learn. It can give you an idea of where we’re going to start before we head into the skills I’m going to help you master.
Why Consider Your Mindset?
I have a post here about the ideas of Distraction versus Acceptance. In short, some labor and delivery techniques focus on the idea that you can distract your mind from your labor pains and other discomforts so that you don’t experience them as negatively as can be portrayed.
I DISAGREE with this concept. When we are in tune with our bodies and are aware of how we’re feeling, the energy that we possess mentally can help in enormous ways for other areas of the body. As my husband likes to say, “It’s all mental.”
As we accept our physiological state, that we are in the process of preparing to push out that baby, there isn’t any internal conflict that can eat away at us. We MUST be prepared to accept the facts of our labor and accept EVERY single feeling and emotion that comes with it.
There are many concepts for how to breathe during your labor that I discuss here. Basically, you DON’T want to hyperventilate, or breathe very quickly.
I know in the movies and on TV you see this all the time. The pregnant women sitting in bed and she’s doing so great because she’s doing her quick “hee, hee, hoos”.
But really, this is NOT the solution.
Hyperventilating causes your body to have abnormal levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. The imbalance, again, increases your levels of stress hormones. Do we see a pattern here? You also become extremely weak at the very time when you need your strength.
The best type of breathing technique is simply what I call Low & Slow. Breathe deeply and consistently. You don’t have to maximize the capacity of your lungs or take VERY long breaths. Just calmly and down in the belly as if you were getting ready to go to sleep.
It took me a little while to keep this consistent while in labor with my first baby. I was breathing low and slow, I thought. But I didn’t notice that my inhales were dramatically shorter than my exhales until my nurse pointed it out.
She asked if my hands and feet were tingly, which they were (smart gal). And she said it was because my carbon dioxide levels were too low in my blood from not inhaling long enough.
I quickly changed the pattern and the tingling went away. Then I was able to move forward with my labor.
So now you’ve laid the ground work for being able to relax through your labor.
There are Many Ways to Relax
I’ve learned a variety of ways to teach your body how to relax from reading Dr. Bradley’s book and also from a Lamaze course I took. There are different ways of doing things, and what worked for me will not necessarily work perfectly for you. So that’s why I tried everything I learned at first to know what to try once I was in the heat of the moment.
|Physical Relaxation||Mental Relaxation|
|What you actually train your body to do during a contraction.||What you choose to focus on during a contraction.|
No matter if you choose to do progressive muscle relaxation or keeping an external pressure source vivid while you practice, either method will help you identify what your body is doing and where you can improve in teaching yourself how to relax.
Alongside what your body is doing, what your mind is focusing on is very important as well. Why? Because your mind can control your body and even trick it sometimes. Now, I don’t mean you’re using your mind to distract yourself (like in the important of your mindset we’ve already discussed). I mean what your mind is doing in order to work with WITH what your body is doing.
For example, if you choose to imagine yourself in a peaceful place while you’re going through your labor, then that is a wonderfully positive thing that can benefit your body’s work effort. But if you’re just focusing on the fact that your still in a hospital room with nothing familiar around you, then it may be a little more difficult to work through.
Having a positive image in your mind while going through a contraction isn’t a distraction if it coincides with the moment. Please read this post here for greater clarification. But, hopefully, you get the basic idea right now.
When I would go through a contraction I would already have the mindset of acceptance, being there for what my body is trying to do. Then I would physically relax my muscles and do my deep belly breathing.
I would have on my relaxing music and picture myself in my most relaxing place I’d experienced in my life. But as I would picture that place, I would incorporate the fact that I was in labor there too, but blissfully so. Not eager for it to be over. Not fighting against it. But welcoming it to do what was necessary at this moment in time.
I wouldn’t count down to when the contraction would be over or talk with anyone while going through one. I would keep up the confidence that I am here for one purpose at this moment and look forward to its completion with my baby in arms. I would just BE.
There’s SO much to dive into with this topic and it can be at the very core of your experience with bringing your baby into the world. In essence, this is MAKE it or BREAK it time. But if you follow through with everything else on these other posts here:
You ARE going to get through your labor. I mentioned listening to music. There are also other things you can do to help relieve your labor pains for increased relaxation.
I want to know from you what you feel is important during your labor for being able to relax and have a proper mindset throughout the entire experience. I can only describe what works best for me and what I’ve found is great for others as well. But you never know if something you experienced will help someone else without sharing. I welcome your comments and shares here below.