Learn to Relax for an Amazing Birth
Perhaps one of the most important things you can do to prepare for an amazing birth is to learn to relax and practice this skill until it becomes second nature.
Relaxation skills translate to every part of life, from handling contractions to dealing with toddlers; learning to relax to prepare for your birth will help you in your life. Understanding the types of relaxation and how to practice them for your own birth is an imperative part of birth preparation.
There are three different types of relaxation-
Mental relaxation- Being mentally relaxed means that your mind is at ease. You aren't stressed about the mortgage or nervous about an upcoming test. You have let go of the pressing everyday needs to focus on letting your mind be free of worry.
Physical relaxation- Being physically relaxed means that your body and your muscles have loosened up and let go of tension. Your shoulders aren't tight and your hands aren't clenched. This is physical relaxation.
Emotional relaxation- When you feel emotionally relaxed you feel safe. You know that the people around you love and care about you.
All three of these types of relaxation work together. You can't have one and not the others and be truly relaxed and all three are imperative to childbirth preparation.
The why of practicing relaxation-
Most of us probably don't imagine laying on the floor in a strange place and listening to someone utter phrases like:
Picture yourself floating like a leaf on a stream
Imagine your body opening like a rose
Feel yourself go loose and limp as your body totally relaxes
It's easy to think that practicing relaxation is an awkward and unnecessary exercise in futility.
The opposite is actually true.
While practicing relaxation, in public no less, can feel a tad strange at first, it is an important part of getting ready for your birth.
Your birth teacher SHOULD read relaxation scripts to you. This helps you in several ways:
-Practicing relaxation in public with other people around prepares you for your birth.
You will likely be birthing with others present. You need to be comfortable working together with your birth team around. Practicing relaxation helps you do this.
-Practicing relaxation in this way also opens you up to vulnerability.
By doing something that pushes you outside your comfort zone, you allow yourself to be vulnerable. This is an important part of your mental and emotional preparation for childbirth.
-Practicing relaxation with your partner helps you both learn how to work together and know what works for you and what doesn't.
Learning that certain phrases or types of touch make you want to scream should be done long before you feel your first contraction. Labor is a bad time to figure this out!
-Practicing relaxation builds your confidence.
Many people feel like they can't relax or don't know how. This is a learned skill! The time you spend practicing relaxation in your birth class, as a couple, and on your own doesn't just give you skills- it gives you confidence you need for your birth.
Birth is intense but you can do it!
Birth is an intense and transformative life event. Childbirth often takes hours and hours, pushes your limits physically and emotionally, grows relationships, and humbles individuals. Learning how to relax is one part of preparing for your own amazing birth. We don't just want you to survive your birth experience, we want you to love it! Relaxation is part of this process. Embrace it!
And pretend you are floating like a leaf on a stream...