Labor Relaxation Tips
They call it labor because it’s work! Whether you are trying for an unmedicated birth or planning on pain management like an epidural, you should have some relaxation techniques prepared to carry you through the long process of labor. That’s part of the help a doula can give you. Your doula will meet with you ahead of time to help you write your birth plan. Then, during labor, she’ll remind you of the relaxation techniques you wanted to try. Check out these labor relaxation tips ahead of time. There may be some that make your list.
Practice rhythmic breathing.
Most people find that slow breathing techniques, like yoga breaths, are most useful during the earlier part of labor. Then, during late labor (just before they start pushing), many mamas switch to quick, rhythmic breathing. Take a childbirth class, read a birth book, or look up YouTube tutorials to practice breathing techniques for birth. The more you practice them during pregnancy, the more useful they’ll be during labor.
Switch up positions, or just move around.
If you’re uncomfortable in your position, switch it up. Practice different positions ahead of time with your partner or doula. You might want to sit, squat, get on your hands and knees, or simply walk around.
Try visualizations or meditation.
Guided visualization can be super helpful during labor. Many birthers compare the sensation of contractions to cresting and receding waves. Perhaps that’s why it’s so common for mamas to visualize the ocean. Maybe some other environment relaxes you more. You can prepare a recording of guided visualization to mentally bring yourself into that environment, or have your partner or doula narrate for you.
Find or create the atmosphere you want.
Think about the atmosphere you want to be in when you labor, and do what you can to create that atmosphere. Maybe you want soft lighting, or a nice smell, or soothing music. If you’re giving birth at home, prepare those things ahead of time. If you’re giving birth at a hospital or birthing center, bring them with you.
Get a massage.
Aside from being reassuring, a good massage can ease contraction pain. Have your partner or doula massage your shoulders, back (especially your lower back), or feet and hands. The nice sensation can distract from the pain, and relaxing makes your muscles less tense, which also helps.
Play with temperature.
Try a warm bath or shower. Or, get your hands on some hot or cold compresses. A cool towel or ice chips on your forehead can be a lifesaver. So can a heating pad on the small of your back.