Tips on How to Relax During Childbirth
The depiction of childbirth on TV and in the movies usually isn’t totally accurate. On-screen, labor starts with powerful and painful contractions. The mother-to-be is usually overwhelmed by the pain and has a hard time keeping her composure. She gets rushed to the hospital screaming in pain, cursing her husband, and lashing out at those around her.
For pregnant women and couples who have no one else to refer to, what they see in these scenes is the main tutorial of what they should expect on the big day.
In most cases, childbirth is much different than what we see from Hollywood. In reality, you will have plenty of time to relax and ease into your birthing experience. Contractions typically start small, building up over several hours as labor progresses. When your water breaks, you usually have hours before you get to meet your baby.
For a relaxing and peaceful birthing experience, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here are seven strategies that we recommend to make labor as short and as comfortable as possible.
1. You own your birthing experience
When you start thinking about having a baby, start thinking of a plan that you’d like to follow. There are different types of birth, but a lot of it comes down to personal preference. You should think about what will make you the most comfortable.
Just because someone else thinks a certain way is the best way, don’t feel obligated to take their advice. It will slow you down. Don’t invite people to be a part of your labor if you don’t want them to be there. Think about the people who will support you the way that you want to be supported. This is your experience, and you deserve to have the birth how you want. Don’t compromise to make anyone else more comfortable.
Think about your reasons for wanting to give birth in a certain way. It’s possible that you change your mind during labor, but if you come in with a clear idea of how you want your birthing experience to be, the transition to a different method will be much smoother. Explain your plan and your reasons behind it to the people attending your birth. A clear understanding by everyone will make the process much more comfortable as labor progresses.
2. Confront your fears in advance.
Giving birth can be scary. Even the thought of someone you love giving birth can be unsettling. It’s something people don’t want to even think about. A lot of the time they imagine that because they will be with a doctor or midwife, all will be OK, so looking into fear is unnecessary. They’re right. They will be OK. But this doesn’t mean you should ignore the fears that you have going into labor. Working through them will make the experience easier for everyone.
Going into labor brings you face to face with unresolved fears. Processing these fears takes time and can slow down your labor. The body is a powerful machine. It will work out the fear even if you don’t intellectually process it. The same goes for trauma. Sexual trauma and birth trauma is processed when it happens.
Before you go into labor, take some time to think about what is important to process and how you will need to heal. Healing could be as easy as talking about your fears and traumas with a close friend or family member. Deeper fears may need to be brought to a therapist or counselor. Regardless of the method you choose, giving birth will be much easier and smoother without unresolved fear and trauma. You’ll be able to relax and get into the flow of the experience.
3. Feel the labor sensations before trying to describe them to others.
If it’s your first baby, contractions will be a completely new sensation. Even women who have had a baby have difficulty explaining the feeling. It’s like describing the flavor of fruit you’ve never tasted. The explanation does little to help the listener understand what it’s really like.
When you have those first contractions, let yourself get to know the sensations before you tell others about them. Describing the feeling with words takes a lot of energy. Be quiet. Feel the feelings rather than using your energy to describe them.
The minute you tell people that you’re having contractions, they will treat you like you’re in labor. You don’t want this. Even gentle checking in can distract you from getting fully relaxed and getting to know your body and the new sensations.
Generally, contractions build up over time. Use the spaced out contractions early on to get into the groove with your body. Start to relax. The more you relax, the less your contractions hurt.
4. Try sleeping when you feel your first contraction.
If you can, stop what you’re doing and climb into bed as soon as you feel the first contraction. You’ll have the urge to get out your phone to check how long your contractions are lasting, or to get all your chores done that you wanted to finish before the baby arrives. Resist the urge. You’re preparing for a huge output of energy and every extra minute of sleep will help.
Even if there’s no way you think you’ll be able to fall asleep due to all the excitement, lie down and close your eyes. Rest and let your body relax. When your contractions build, and you enter active labor, you won’t be able to sleep. You want a recent memory of what it feels like to relax completely. The memory will comfort you and make it easier to get back to that state of deep relaxation.
5. Treat yourself to a warm oil massage.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, give yourself a massage. Warm up your favorite oil and begin at the top of the head, moving down your body working toward the center of your body and your heart. Use long strokes on your muscles and circular strokes on your joints. Rub yourself as you think and speak thoughts of love about yourself.
The warm oil will lubricate all of the layers of your body and mind, and it will help with an easier shift and allow you to stretch. The thoughts of love will help you feel safe and secure. You’ll be much more present throughout the birthing.
6. Take a bath and use your voice to open up.
Taking a bath can help you feel refreshed and revived when you most need it. Taking a bath or luxurious shower while giving every part of your body attention encourages them to work with you while giving birth. Your body, as well as your baby, respond to your thoughts and intentions. Fill them with love.
Warm water eases the labor sensations. It relaxes your muscles, making the opening up process easier. Using your voice can also help. Tilt your head back, open your throat, and make deep, low sounds to open up all the way down to your cervix.
Continue throughout labor as the sensations become more intense. You’ll feel the vibration, and it will bring comfort to your entire body. It will feel good.
A calm mind and body is key to a comfortable labor. It’s like finding the calm eye in the center of a storm. Regardless of what is happening around you, or what sensations you’re feeling, you can experience a stillness within. Instead of fighting through it, it will feel like you’re in a bubble witnessing the birth. It will feel as if you’re being held throughout the entire experience.
Start practicing meditation early in labor. This will help you find your groove before the sensations intensify. There’s no one method that’s best. Whether you choose guided meditation, focus on your breath, use a personal mantra, or another technique specifically for labor, it will help you let go of the pain and relax. Even when the contractions are intense, you’ll be able to find stillness and make it through.