To practice relaxation with your partner, you need to be very comfortable. Collect a bunch of pillows and teach your partner where you like them. Do these exercises in various positions: standing and leaning against your partner, a wall or a piece of furniture, sitting down, lying on your side, and even on all- fours.
1. Tense, and then relax muscle groups. Check your whole body for muscle tension: a furrowed forehead, clenched fists, and a tight mouth are the easiest ones to spot. Then practice releasing each group of muscles from head to toe systematically. Tense, and then relax each muscle group to help you identify the two different states. When your partner cues you with “contraction,” think, “relax and release. ” Then feel these tight muscles loosen.
2. Practice touch relaxation. This conditions you to expect pleasure rather than pain to follow tension. Find out which touches and what kind of massage relax you best. Do the same head to toe progression as above. Tense each muscle group, and then have your partner apply a warm, relaxed touch to that area as your cue to release the tension. This means you don’t have to keep hearing the verbal cue “relax,” which eventually becomes irritating. Another goal is to be able to relax a tense muscle when your partner puts just the right touch on that spot before it begins to hurt. Practice: “I hurt here – you press hard (or stroke or touch here). ”
3. Use visualization to relax. A clear mind filled with soothing scenes relaxes a laboring body – at least between contractions. It also encourages the production of labor-enhancing endorphins that can help your labor progress. Sports psychologists use mental imagery or visualization to help athletes perform. Follow these steps to use visualization for relaxation during labor:
- Determine the thoughts and scenes you find most relaxing and practice meditating on them frequently throughout the day, especially in the final month of pregnancy. You may find the following scenes helpful: rolling waves, waterfalls, meandering streams, walking along the beach with your mate.
- Think about appropriate images for use during contractions. When a contraction begins, picture your uterus “hugging” your baby and pulling itself up over his or her adorable little head. During the dilating stage, imagine your cervix getting thinner and more open with each contraction.
- Change scenes from painful to pleasant. Grab the pain as if it were a big glob of modeling clay, massage it into a tiny ball, wrap it up, put it in a helium balloon, and imagine it leaving your body and floating up into the sky.
- Between and during the more painful contractions, imagine the prize rather than the pain you have to go through to get it. Picture yourself reaching down as your baby comes out, assisting your birth attendant in placing your baby on your abdomen, and nestling your child against your breasts.