Pregnancy guide > Labour and birth > Labour > Relaxation techniques for labour

Relaxation techniques for labour

Find out some essential techniques you can try to help stay relaxed during labour.
As your baby's due date approaches, you may find yourself experiencing a mixture of feelings ranging from excitement, to worry, to anticipation. Even if you've read every book under the sun on the subject, it's hard to know what to expect when b-day does finally arrive.

Fortunately there are some things you can do to prepare your mind and body as much as possible for this exciting event. One of them is to learn about and practise relaxation techniques, so that when you go into labour you'll be able to stay calm and focused.

Why relax?

Relaxing your body while in labour can have many benefits, both for you and your baby as he or she enters the world. If you're relaxed and breathing calmly, you'll both be getting plenty of oxygen, helping you and your baby to cope with the experience.

Making sure your muscles are not tensed is also hugely beneficial because you'll be able to breathe more easily and help baby on his or her way down the birth canal. The more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to have a shorter labour and less likely to need medical intervention.

How can I relax?

One of the best things you can do before going into labour is to practise relaxing. Everyone has different ways of relaxing - perhaps you feel calmer after taking a few deep breaths, or closing your eyes and visualising a peaceful scene. Whatever your preferred method, it's a good idea to practise it regularly so that when you go into labour you can help yourself stay relaxed right away.

Muscle relaxation

Although relaxing your muscles during a contraction is difficult, it's a good idea to try to relax as much as possible between contractions. As one contraction tapers off try to concentrate on unwinding each muscle in your body one by one. Doing this will prepare your body for the next contraction and stop your muscles from becoming tired - it will also give you something to concentrate on until the next contraction begins.

Birth partners

Having a birth partner who is able to stay calm and collected will be hugely beneficial while you're in labour, as they will be able to give you valuable support and encouragement throughout. It's also vital to make your birth area as relaxing and stress-free as possible. For example if you are giving birth in a hospital, bring some extra cushions with you and wear your most comfortable clothes. It may help to dim the lights slightly or to have some relaxing music on if you wish.

Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises are certainly worth practising before you give birth and will be essential while you are in labour. The most important thing to remember is to keep your breathing even and make sure you are breathing out as slowly as you are breathing in. This will stop you from gasping and reducing your oxygen supply. Breathing deeply and evenly will also do wonders for how tense or stressed you feel.

Massage

You might also want to try massage to help ease discomfort and soothe tense muscles. If you have a birth partner ask him or her to knead your back, shoulders, feet or hands in slow, firm circles while you concentrate on your breathing.

Water

Water can be another calming influence during labour, as many women find that being in a warm pool is very relaxing. Taking a bath while you're still in the early stages can help you to stay calm and kill time while you're waiting to go to the hospital. Talk to your doctor if you are considering having a water birth and he or she will be able to advise you.

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useful, thanks
by sally22 5th Jan 2010, 3:42pm

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