This post is from Jessica Karp, one of our doulas and also a nutrition coach. In addition to her work with Family Ways, Jess runs a health and wellness business called Labreeyoot Health, Nutrition, and Family Services.
TENSE AND RELEASE
Practice relaxation 3-4 times per week!
To become a master of relaxation you must first become incredibly aware of your body. The good news is now that you are pregnant you are most likely already very aware of every small change that is taking place. In pregnancy it seems as if each day there is a new kind of normal to which you must adjust. Our immediate reaction in the face of pain may be to tighten our muscles, furrow our brow and yell or scream. While these actions seem warranted they are not helpful in labor. To increase your comfort level you will need to re-train your mind how to respond to pain.
Your voice can help you release tension from your body. Our gut reaction is to let out a high-pitched shriek but keeping your voice in the lower register can help you cope with the pain and stay in control of the moment. Low moans and groans assist your body in labor while high- pitched shrieks and screams cause your body to hold onto tension making labor more painful. One mama I know wound up mooing in her labor. She recalled the event later saying how she told her husband to forget that ever happened but in the end it helped her.
Tense and Release
Lay down on your left side and ever so slightly furrow your brow. Now relax and settle into duh face. This is where your mouth is slightly open and all of your facial muscles are at ease. Now ever so slightly tense up your shoulders and then relax them. Follow this through your body down to your toes.
Tense and Release with Vocalization
Do the above exercise but now with every release let out a low moan. You want this vocalization to be in your lowest comfortable register. It may even be breathy.
Partner-led Visualization and Guided Imagery
Your partner will lightly massage and stroke your body brushing the tension away from you while they guide you along a visual journey. As they speak work on releasing your muscles, coming to duh face, and lining up your breath with the patterns in their imagery.
*Note to partner: In this exercise you are painting a picture for the mama. You can recall real events or make them up as you go. Remember every detail you recount must be working towards relaxing the mama. You may want to focus on the pattern of the waves, the warm sunshine, or the crispness of the air. Whatever you choose to focus needs to be relaxing in nature.