Effective use of relaxation techniques for childbirth starts with developing an awareness of two key factors: breathing patterns and bodily tension. While this may seem a simple task, it is surprisingly difficult for many women to learn to truly attend to these points. Each of the relaxation techniques for childbirth will be most effective when good practice habits have first been established.
Begin by finding a soothing comfortable space in which to lie or sit down. Schedule a set time each day for practice, such as early morning or right before bed. It doesn't have to be lengthy; 10-15 minutes is sufficient if done daily.
If you have other children, nap times can be used to practice. As an alternative, this might be the perfect opportunity to pull out that favorite video or highly-preferred toy.
Once you've chosen your spot, begin to let your eyelids slowly close and clear your mind. Slowly turn your attention to your breathing. Notice the rhythmic rise and fall of your chest. Regulate your breathing as if you are sleeping. Keep each breath slow and steady. It may be helpful to inhale to a count of 4 and exhale to a count of 8, or inhale 1-2-3-4, exhale 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. The exhale should last twice as long as the inhale.
Become accustomed to consciously attending to your breathing. Take time each and every day to focus on your breathing, whether it be on the way to work or before bed each evening.
Once a rhythmic breathing pattern has been mastered, change focus to subsequently relaxing each part of your body. Begin at the top of your head working your way down to your toes. Proceed in small increments such as from the top of your head to your forehead, then to your eyelids and next your jaw. This technique is most effective when paired with a childbirth relaxation script and/or audio track.
As you practice relaxing each day, focus on learning to discriminate where you harbor your tension. You may find you hold your tension in your jaw or behind your eyes. For some, mental stress or anxiety is the culprit. To realize the true benefit of relaxation techniques for childbirth, you must first rid yourself of any lingering phobias about giving birth naturally. Embrace your body's innate ability to birth a child. You can and will have the gentle, natural birth you desire.
Remember, practice makes perfect! Don't be surprised if initially you aren't as relaxed as you first thought. Mastering relaxation requires diligent practice and repetition. If you implement the above practices with fidelity, you will be ready to engage in specific relaxation techniques for childbirth.
Page Last Modified by Catherine Beier, MS, CBE
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