Giving birth naturally requires stamina, determination and mastering the skill of relaxation.
Although it may seem relaxing is not a skill, it very much is. Between each contraction, you must fully relax – let go – and retain the energy needed to endure the marathon that natural labor and birth can be.
Pam England, author of Birthing From Within, challenges women to the “ice cube test,” asking that you hold an ice cube at the moment you feel most relaxed. Can you maintain that relaxation?
The physical act of birthing a baby is the process of your body opening to let your baby through. Your muscles must be relaxed, not tense. A tense muscle will work against the process of your baby descending.
Visualize the process of birth.
Each time you have a contraction, visualize something in relation to what your body is doing, whether that be your uterus itself, or another type of scenario.
For instance, when I thought of my daughter’s birth, (I even created birth art around this daydream) my mind envisioned a seal swimming up through a hole in the ice. I’m not sure why I thought of this, but it was such a calm and serene thing to imagine.
I also thought of the process in a very objective way – that my uterus was a big, great and well working muscle that with each contraction was tightening around my baby and inching her downward.
These two thoughts created a very constructive foundation of relaxation and acceptance surrounding each contraction.
Music can calm your nerves.
Do you ever play music to relax when you’re feeling uptight?
What CD do you pick out to listen to when you feel like relaxing? Think about this and set aside a variety of music that calms you down to listen to during labor.
I listened to the same CD over and over again until I didn’t care about music playing anymore (when I was deep in the throws of labor, nothing mattered other than focusing on labor).
Hydrotherapy – Calming Waters
Using water as pain control during labor has been used for centuries. Immersing one’s laboring body into water is amazingly effective in reducing pain.
There are three unique benefits to laboring in water, specifically in a whirlpool tub – heat, buoyancy and massage.
Laboring in my claw-foot tub was the one place I could completely relax. I would lean my head back and close my eyes – the pain relief was evident immediately. I got in and out of the tub 5-6 times during the duration of my labor.
Labor does not have to be painful.
Hypnobirthing is a relaxation technique used to create a calm and relaxed presence and attitude within the birthing mother.
Hypnobirthing is a technique as much as it is a philosophy that teaches complete relaxation through awareness, trust and acceptance of your body’s natural ability to birth.
Educators of hypnobirthing teach women and their companions (birth team) to release all fear binding thoughts. A woman’s body will naturally release endorphines that help reduce pain – our bodies have been created with such awesome design!
Massage during labor is a wonderful tool to ease tension in your muscles and applying counter-pressure to areas that need it provides tremendous relief.
I recommend hiring someone who knows how to perform labor massage such as a doula or massage therapist who specializes in prenatal or labor massage.
My doula was literally my saving grace during some rather intense back labor. She knew just where to apply pressure on my lower back.
Own your natural labor and birth.
The positive aspects of natural childbirth include being present for each moment while recognizing some discomfort may be involved. Natural childbirth demands your interaction, accountability and attention.
Women who choose (it is a choice) natural birth are aware and involved in the process of birth, as their bodies our naturally intended.
Move around and choose positions as you deem necessary. Tap into your internal resources and don’t forget to use your breath.
I’d love to hear from you! What relaxation techniques did you use during your natural labor and childbirth?