Learning to Relax
Relaxation is a habit that one should work to develop throughout pregnancy. Even the most anxious person is quite capable of relaxing during birth. In our opinion, the best recipe for relaxation in birthing includes: 1) Excellent, continuous support from another woman who has birthed before, 2) Birthing in a space that feels comfortable, familiar, and calm or fun, 3) Learning to trust you body and your baby, ideally during pregnancy.
We have placed two practice relaxation scripts for partners to do together. It is recommended that you carve out a minimum of 15 minutes each day to relax alone or with your birth partner. During this time you can listen to a soothing CD, state affirmations to yourself, talk to your baby and tell him how excited you are for his birth, or just be still. Don't force relaxation, but rather allow it to gradually happen in it's own time and it's own way. The more that you practice relaxation, the easier your body will relax to suggestion.
If you have particular birthing fears, write them down and contemplate them for a while. Decide where you need more education to eliminate those fears. It is common for fears to stem from stories tha tyou have heard or even your own past birth experience. When this is true, spend time seeking out possible reasons for these negative birth experiences or stories. Many women in our country have negative experiences because they lacked support, their care provider was uneducated on ways to improve their baby's position, they were not given the best nutritional counseling during pregnancy, they did not have enough support during birth, or because they were so scared and no one helped to empower them to feel strength and confidence in their bodies. Recognize that this does not have to be your experience and, as your doulas, we are here to help ensure that it is not.
BREATHING -- SLEEP BREATHING for Relaxation
Sleep breathing is used to assist the mother as she conditions herself to slip into relaxation between surges in labor to help her maintain a state of relaxation. Practice the scripts with mom regularly so that she becomes conditioned to going into deeper trance and "going within" at hearing the birth companion's voice. Remember that Sleep breathing differs from SLOW BREATHING used during surges and it is done this way:
(a) Slowly inhale to the count of 4 - pause
(b) Slowly exhale to the count of 8, keeping mouth closed and allowing the breath to drift down into the chest, stomach, and through the body. Repeat as necessary.
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