Relaxation Techniques During Pregnancy and Childbirth
Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering. - Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne
Every stage of pregnancy has its own special earmarks - things that make it memorable - such events as not being able to hold breakfast down, or having to run to the bathroom 22 times in one day. Or, how about the inability to find a place that's really comfortable? Well, it's not only about those times, but they certainly are some of the ones we remember best. One of the great ways to go through pregnancy is to learn some relaxation techniques - methods of relaxation that will help you through some of the more physical challenges of pregnancy.
Relax? What's That?
The word "relax" is defined this way: to make less tense, rigid, or firm; make lax; to diminish the force of; to slacken or abate as effort, attention, etc.; to make less strict or severe, as rules, discipline; to release or bring relief from the effects of tension, anxiety; to release oneself from inhibition. Now, as we apply this word to pregnancy and childbirth, you can see how many ways it can work.
When we think of synonyms for relaxation, we often think about calming down, letting go, lightening up and chilling out. Resting and putting your feet up is a great way to unwind and take a break - and they are also other ways of saying "relaxation". By paying some attention to these words and groups of words, we get the idea that relaxation conveys - take it easy, lie down, be calm, (they're all part of the word rest). There are some great hints at methodologies here, so pay attention.
Some of the best relaxation techniques to use during pregnancy and later during childbirth, involve breathing and involving all of the senses as the mother and father-to-be focus energy and work pain to advantage. During pregnancy, a good massage works wonders to relieve back pain and muscle cramping in the legs. Sylvia Plath, in The Bell Jar, wrote; "There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them". This bit of wisdom goes a long way to providing relaxation during pregnancy. Just make sure the water isn't too hot.
Using Sight and Sound
We're reliant upon our senses to guide us to things that are good for us and away from things that aren't always so good. The eye gate allows things into our minds that impact our souls. By focusing our sight upon things that are pleasing (like baby's first outfit or pictures of quiet places), we can bring our body energy down to a place of peace. Many of us relax to music, enjoying lyrics of songs that stir peace and contentment within. Having quiet, peaceful, music playing in the house is a way to keep the atmosphere gentle and calming. Lyrics to songs can speed us up or quiet us down. Pick songs that have encouraging and uplifting lyrics, relaxing lyrics that bring good feeling rather than hard luck lyrics or words that bring you down. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said, "There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub." Find your place of peace and relaxation in your home, listening to your favorite piece of music.
The Magic of Touch
Perhaps one of the best ways to relax is through touch. This is especially true when you are in the latter stages of pregnancy and finding a place to be comfortable is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Massage, acupressure, hydrotherapy and reflexology are all excellent ways to deal with the discomfort - and these methods can be extended right through labor and delivery. Kneading, stroking, applying pressure or counter-pressure are some of the more common ways of applying touch as a relaxation technique. Thoughts are powerful and when they are held onto, they can cause a body to tense and become rigid. During labor and birth, harnessing the incredible power of the mind and using visualization and imagery as a means of redirecting the energy away from pain and toward relief is a wonderful way to use thoughts. There are great sayings and quotes from relaxation sites online that you can learn and then use as part of the relaxation process during labor.