C. RELAXATION

Relaxation is a way of letting go. When you relax, you let go of the tension in your muscles and in your mind.

Relaxation helps save energy and creates a feeling of well-being. Learning relaxation techniques is one of the best ways to help make your labour and delivery easier.

The exercises found in this section correspond to only one relaxation technique. It is not the only one available. If you have a method that helps you to relax, use it.

When you practice relaxation:

  • make sure that all parts of your body are supported and comfortable.
  • let go of all muscle tension.
  • clear your mind.
  • breathe slowly and evenly.

Relaxation is a life skill. Learn to use it now, and you will find ways to use it during your pregnancy, delivery, and for the rest of your life.

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a. Comfortable Positions

Since you do not know which position will be best for you during labour, it is a good idea to practice several.

The only position to avoid is lying flat on your back. This is because the weight of your uterus presses on your blood vessels and can reduce the blood flow to you and your baby.

Here are a few suggestions to find a comfortable position.

b. Relaxing Moments

It can be helpful to have your labour partner check your muscles for tension while you are learning relaxation techniques. They can gently touch or lift parts of your body - for example an arm or a leg. If it is limp or relaxed, your partner puts it gently back on the pillow. If your arm or leg is tense, your partner massages or touches it gently until it relaxes. A warm, soft touch can be very relaxing. Many people find it easier to relax their muscles and to "let go" in response to a touch.

Breathe slowly and deeply while you learn to relax.

When you tighten your muscles, do not contract them too tightly. It is enough to feel them contract.

As you relax, think about letting go or releasing the tension in all your muscles.

c. Relaxing Step by Step

The purpose of this routine is to help you learn how to recognize and then release muscle tension. You do this by tightening and releasing your muscles one by one. Inhale to contract and exhale to relax.

You may start at your toes and work up to your face or start with your face and work your way down to your toes. Try it both ways and see which one is more relaxing for you.

Find a comfortable position in which all the parts of your body are supported and comfortable.

You may enjoy having your labour partner guide you through your relaxation with a calm and soothing voice. This will help you learn the routine and get you used to relaxing when you hear your labour partner's voice. This will be very reassuring when you are trying to relax during labour.

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