Relaxation can help counteract stress and produce a calm mind and body. More than any other time in your life relaxation is an important technique to learn during pregnancy. If you can develop a good relaxation routine now you will be well placed to handle the additional stresses of parenthood later on.
There are a number of relaxation techniques available. Yoga is particularly advantageous during pregnancy as it also helps stretch and strengthen the muscles to assist in labour and childbirth. Many people find meditation helpful and again this can also provide a benefit during labour.
Relaxation breathing is a very simple technique which can take 2 to 20 minutes and can be practiced anywhere – lying down, sitting up or even in the car. Preferably sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Think about your breathing, concentrate on breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. Busy people often take short, shallow breaths with their chest. Focus on using long, deep breathes in through the nose and down into the abdomen. Let your muscles in your lungs and ribcage fill your abdomen and concentrate on it swelling and then contracting as you breathe out. As you improve, and as time permits, increase your relaxation breathing to 20 minutes.
Progressive muscular relaxation is a method which enables you to relax the large muscles of your body. It is also a wonderful technique to put you off to sleep at night as it works on the theory that a relaxed body means a relaxed mind.
Progressive Muscular Relaxation Technique:
- Simply lie down, close your eyes and breathe naturally.
- Begin by clenching your fists tightly and then tense your arms.
- As you breathe out release the tension in your arms all the way down to your fingertips.
- Say the word ‘relax’ to yourself.
- Imagine the weight in your arms being drawn by gravity into the bed (or floor, or whatever you’re lying on).
- Next do the same with your feet and calf muscles and in turn with your thighs, bottom, stomach, back and head.
- Try tensing the muscles of your face last and as you breathe out saying the word ‘relax’ to yourself your entire body should feel heavy and relaxed.
- As you improve try imagining a peaceful scene and put yourself there. It may be a boat on a calm ocean or a beautiful clearing in the bush.
- Let yourself stay there for a while.
Whichever relaxation technique you decide works best for you try to do it as a regular routine.
Prevention of stress is better than a cure.