Relaxation comes in handy (read: IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY) for so many things related to parenthood – postpartum, colicky newborns, headstrong toddlers…
Whether you are pregnant with your first and preparing for your birth, or a busy mom of multiple children (or a human being...), relaxation is an important tool for life!
When I became a Birth Boot Camp Instructor, I discovered that relaxation would be a big part of the birth classes I teach in Denton, TX. I was a little wary at first since relaxation was not my strong suit. (Confession: I am the conductor of the anxiety train.) During my original training, and after practicing the relaxation exercises, I was sold on how effective and important relaxation was to a healthy, happy birth. But I still did NOT get it. How??!? I was determined to become a relaxation guru.
I went on a google frenzy, and here are a few quick relaxation tips I’ve picked up along the way:
Stop and B R E A T H E
If you were to stop at any given time during the day, what would your breathing really be like? Slow and steady? Or shallow and irregular? I do breath checks throughout the day, and most of the time I notice I “catch” my breath and hold it. When I take in a deep breath, and slowly let it go, I notice my stress levels go down. My shoulders drop and relax, my jaw loosens. So much changes when we really BREATHE. Imagine how much easier birth could be if careful, intentional breathing became a habit.
Don’t be afraid of scripts
When I was pregnant with my first baby, I bought a book of a popular birthing method that included a CD of a birth script/relaxation. I was supposed to listen and practice regularly and then my baby was going to come into the world with a calm, peaceful, half-asleep mother(okay, I exaggerate, but you get the point). There was one problem; I could not stand the voice on the recording! Listening to this recording became a chore, and once I realized that it caused more agitation then relaxation, I needed to move onto something else. But before you give up on relaxations, consider this – sometimes you need to shop around. Keep trying until you find something you like! I sometimes peruse YouTube for meditations to help me fall asleep. Sometimes I start and stop a dozen before settling on one I like (What can I say? I’m picky about voices!). If you want some birth specific recordings to try, there are some great birth script downloads on the Birth Boot Camp website: I use these sometimes in class. You can purchase Birth Relaxations here.
Another great option? Have your partner read them to you. A familiar voice might be just what you need.
Picture a river
This is a trick I heard from a few different sources. Do you ever have a hard time falling asleep, because a thousand things suddenly come to mind? I often jolt up in bed at least once as I’m falling asleep because I forgot to put dinner in the fridge, or I didn’t send that email I’d been meaning to… so this trick is good for the anxiety ridden and busy minded.
Instead of fighting off thoughts and trying to "clear your mind", which doesn’t work very well, picture a river that floats by in front of you. When a thought comes, you simply imagine taking it and placing it in the river, and watch it float away. If it comes again, you just repeat. Place it in the river, watch it float away. The more you practice this, the more you create pathways for your brain to let go of thoughts quicker. Keep at it. It will get easier!