Health Pregnancy

Relaxation Exercises for Pregnancy and Labor

Are you planning a natural birth for your baby, or want to spend some time learning natural methods for coping with contractions? In classes intended for natural birth, you will learn a variety of techniques for coping with pain in labor. Here are some techniques to help you prepare...
by Patricia Hughes 
pregnant woman relaxing and practicing her breathing exercisesIf you are planning a natural birth for your baby, you will want to spend some time learning natural methods for coping with contractions. In classes intended for natural birth, you will learn a variety of techniques for coping with pain in labor. These techniques should be practiced throughout pregnancy to relieve anxiety and prepare for the birth of your baby, and even if you are not planning a completely natural childbirth, they will help you relax and reduce anxiety and stress that comes with pregnancy. 

Breathing Exercises

Breathing correctly helps relieve tension. Most people take shallow breaths in the chest, rather than breathing from the diaphragm. This increases tension and impedes relaxation. Slow abdominal breathing helps release tension and relaxes the body. Fewer muscles are used for abdominal breathing, which makes it more effective for relaxation.
If you take a child birth class, you will learn this method of breathing. You can do it at home too. Some women find that this works well when you relax in a comfortable position. Lie on your side or sit in a slightly reclined position and place your hand on your abdomen. This will help you feel your abdomen rising with your breaths. Inhale slowly, allowing your breath to fill your abdomen. Practicing deep breathing during pregnancy will help you relax and prepare for breathing in labor. 

Relaxing the Body

Tension in the muscles makes labor pains more difficult to manage. The contractions are more intense when the muscles surrounding the uterus are tense. Practitioners of natural childbirth methods such as the Bradley Method teach relaxation as a way to decrease pain in labor.
This method involves relaxing all the muscles in the body. It takes practice to learn to relax all the muscles in the body, so you don’t want to wait until labor to try. Practice throughout your pregnancy to learn to relax fully. This can also help to reduce stress in pregnancy, which isn’t good for either you or your baby. You can either begin at the head and work down through the body or start from the toes and work up to the head.
For the purpose of this explanation, we will begin at the head. You can do the reverse if you wish and start with your toes. Lie or recline in a comfortable position. You begin to tense and release the muscles first in the forehead and then in the face. Tensing the muscles before relaxing them is good for learning to locate and release tension.
Gradually tense and release the muscles down through your torso, arms, fingers, legs and toes. When you have relaxed the muscles all the way down to your toes, you will feel relaxed and loose. Think about the areas of your body and locate any residual tension. Tense and release the muscles in any area where you feel tightening or tension. Repeat this until your entire body feels relaxed. Some women find that practicing this method in bed helps them sleep better. 

Visualization Exercises

Visualization helps relax the mind as well as the body. Fears about labor and general worry are not beneficial during labor or even during your pregnancy. Learning to relax and visualize a relaxing and comforting place will help you let go of the anxiety that can make labor more difficult.
Visualization involves imagining yourself in a place that you find comforting. This is often a place in nature. It could be lying on a warm beach in the sun, sitting on a mountaintop or a meadow filled with flowers. You relax and focus on the image of the place you have chosen. The more senses that are used, the more effective the technique for labor. For example, if you are picturing a beach, feel the warm sun on your skin, feel the texture of the sand, smell the salt air and taste the salt water on your tongue. When more senses are used, the image feels more real and is more relaxing. 

Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home décor and travel.

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  • ..hi! just wanna say thank you for creating this website. It helps me a lot in my pregnancy.