Excerpt from The Birth Center Client Manual
The ability to relax is essential to the ability to cope with life’s stresses. Pregnancy and birth are times of great physical and emotional stress, when both mother and her partner would benefit from an increased ability to relax. There are many ways to increase your relaxation level, and you must explore several until you find methods suitable to you. Listed below are several ways of relaxing that you may wish to explore.
- Meditation: Allows you to center yourself and thoroughly relax both mind and body.
- Exercise or Distractions: Activities such as reading, knitting, or watching television will allow you to increase your relaxation level.
- Conscious release: Tensing and relaxing different parts of your body allows you to learn to isolate tension in one muscle group while tensing others. It’s an excellent way to allow your uterus to tense in labor without excessively increasing tension in the rest of your body.
- Guided Imagery or visualization: Allows you to imagine things that enable you to respond with relaxation. You can imagine body parts relaxing, or skin glowing radiantly
Some people respond to stress physically: their heart rate increases, they feel jittery, they pace, or they get butterflies in their stomach. Others respond mentally: they have a decreased ability to concentrate, they begin to worry continuously, or they imagine terrifying scenes. If you respond physically, you need physical activity to help reduce stress. If you respond mentally, you need mental distraction to cope. If you respond with a combination, you will need a combination of relaxation techniques. You must choose a type of relaxation that works for you.
All methods of relaxation require practice and conditioning in order to work effectively. We recommend that you begin practicing immediately so that you are able to use them skillfully by the time late pregnancy and labor stresses approach.