Whether you use hypnosis, yoga or deep breathing, an effective childbirth requires the ability to relax. Relaxing during stress and pain is easier said than done, but nine months of practice can create a relaxation pro with one more tool in her childbirth arsenal.
By: Heather Hill
The best childbirth tips for an expectant mother are listed below. These tips are all based on relaxation. You will see why this is so important for your body. I hope you will find these labor tips for your natural childbirth helpful.
Relaxation is one of the most helpful techniques for pain relief during childbirth. Let your body do what it is supposed to do. While your uterus is contracting, relax the rest of your body so your energy isn’t working against you. Relaxation is something that should be practiced throughout your pregnancy. There are several different ways to do this. Work with your labor partner throughout your pregnancy to find out what works for you. For me, it was to have my husband stroke my hair. For someone else is may be massage. It’s funny to think that relaxing is a skill. The following are some suggestions to try for relaxing.
- Bathing or showering
- Listening to music
- Deep breathing
- Yoga poses
Massage is a wonderful labor tip. Having your partner give you a massage not only relaxes you but it also gives your partner a chance to be a part of the labor process. It promotes closeness and intimacy. And also, as I said above, relaxing takes practice, so that means that you’ll also have to practice massage. You need to find out what works for you and what relaxes you. And heck, asking for practice massage is a good way for you to get a massage every week or so through pregnancy!
BATHING OR SHOWERING
Bathing is an obvious labor tip. I shouldn’t need to explain how wonderful a bath feels even if your aren’t in labor. Just having the feeling of the water on your body is an instant massage. Not the mention the buoyancy of the water takes the pressure off Mom, especially if she is having back labor. I have to say that taking a shower was the best way for me to deal with my labor pain. I just didn’t ever want to get out of the shower. This is one of the primary reasons that so many women are choosing waterbirths over dry births. There is no need for a big waterbirth setup. You can simply fill your own bathtub if you are having a homebirth or lounge in your own tub as long as you can prior to going to the hospital.
Music can be such a relaxing medium. It can take you to another plane of consciousness. It can also evoke such memories and choosing the right music that puts you in the place of total relaxation is a powerful feeling. This is something too, that should be practiced throughout your pregnancy. Experiment with different types of music and see what mood it puts you in. Try something new, you may be surprised. Another benefit of doing this is that having music surround you that comforts you during your pregnancy will make you a happier and more content pregnant woman. And we all know that a happy preggers makes for a happy baby. Your little one can also benefit from the tunes. There are even music and meditation CDs available that are specifically designed for pregnant women. Use whatever soothes you, whether it is Classical, Jazz, Indian flute, piano music or Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons.
Don’t have a partner to stroke your hair or massage your back? Get a doula! A doula will do all that and more. A doula might provide music and candles, help you breathe, maintain focus and offer suggestions and tips to ease your labor. Doulas are absolutely wonderful and no one should attempt a hospital birth without one.
An often overlooked labor tip, breathing, is something that also needs practiced often during your pregnancy. Deep breathing can do wonders for a stressed out or nervous mom in labor. In Yoga it is called Pranayama breathing. Breathing correctly or concentrating on your breathing will help oxygenate your blood which in turn oxygenates the baby. I think this is such an important tool to use. Make sure to practice real deep breathing. You do not want to do the counterproductive rapid “whoosh whoosh whoosh” breathing that women are often encouraged to do to get through each contraction. This depletes your oxygen supply (and oxygen available to your fetus) because you are not breathing from your diaphragm. The only thing that fast, contraction style breathing does is distract you until your contraction is over. Fill your body and your baby’s body with oxygen. Breathe slowly and deeply.
Meditation is a deep form of relaxation. Being able to be still and concentrate on positive images instead of dwelling on pain can not only help with pain relief but can also help you along in your labor. For you,the laboring mom, to be able to be totally relaxed and to have a grip and feeling on what your body is doing and feeling can only speed up labor and have the body do what it knows how to do. Letting your mind relax and give your body the chance to do the work. Meditation can be anything from just sitting in a quiet room with peaceful thoughts, listening to soothing music, practicing the Pranayama breathing, or actually doing yoga. There are aids out there to help you practice meditating. Meditation is a learned skill. If you practice meditating daily throughout your pregnancy, you should be able to use this very powerful method of relaxation very effectively during childbirth.
Practicing yoga during pregnancy can give you the tools you need to help with pain relief during labor. As stated above, the breathing techniques are of high value and if you have done yoga in the past you know the feeling you get right after your practice. You have a feeling of peace and inner strength. One of the most important poses to do during pregnancy is the cat or the Bidalasana pose. A variation of this pose is similar to the pelvic rock exercise. This position is so important because of the benefits to your body which in turn, benefit your baby. This exercise relieves pressure on the lower back, increases circulation and can improve digestion. But most important, is that this position gives the baby the most room for movement and can sometimes help in repositioning the baby from a breech position. This pose is also very helpful in labor. This pose was one that helped me the most. This pose is done by getting down on your hands and knees, knees spread shoulder width. Now, arch your back and then release, tilting your pelvis while doing this. During labor, just being in this position can help the pain, this position was very helpful to me during my labor.
Visualization is a form of meditation. This should be practiced often as should all of these forms of relaxation. Try to pull out a memory of something positive, run this story over and over through your mind. Make this memory a trigger for you feeling peaceful and centered. Think about the first time you met your partner and the things that made you get those butterflies… think about your favorite vacation when you were truly relaxed and content. Perhaps you can picture how you will feel when that precious little life is handed to you for the very first time. Many women find it helpful to visualize their baby descending through their pelvis into their waiting arms. If you do this in conjunction with silent communication with your baby, your baby will actually be in your arms before you know it.
Sheryl’s comment: Relaxation is imperative to a smooth birthing process. Being tense, terrified or in agony can stall the birth process and force unrelenting birth attendants to do terrible things to you and your baby to “get things going again”. Unfortunately it can be tough to relax if some nut is torturing your baby out of your body with Pitocin or repeatedly jamming their hands inside you. Relaxation is one of many arguments for homebirth. Sorry ladies, I don’t care who is massaging your lower back. You just cannot truly relax in a hospital setting. Period. You can’t. Nobody can. There are a thousand reasons why you can’t. The best thing you can do is try to minimize your bodies naturally reaction to the violations and trauma with hypnosis, deep breathing or yoga. None of that is really necessary in a peaceful homebirth. You will not have to “force” relaxation if nobody is doing terrible things to you.