Pregnancy Relaxation Techniques

If you're stressed, tense, overtired or anxious, you may have trouble sleeping. Try these simple techniques to help calm your mind, relax your muscles, rest your body and sleep.

Breathing
Develop your breathing awareness, it will benefit you and the baby during pregnancy and help you during the birth. During pregnancy breathing deeply and rhythmically can ease muscle tension, lower your heart rate, and help you fall asleep faster. Exhale slowly through the mouth, cheeks relaxed, so that your lungs empty completely. Pause & rest. If inhaling is shallow and rapid due to tension and anxiety, your metabolic rate increases, leading to; a decrease in oxygen intake, causing a decrease in energy and increase in pain, which increases stress. Lie down on the carpet or your bed with your feet shoulder-width apart. (If you're uncomfortable lying on your back, rest on your side with a pillow between your legs for support instead. In this position, you may not be able to breathe as deeply.) With your mouth closed, breathe slowly through your nose, feeling your stomach rise as you gradually fill your diaphragm and lungs with air. Hold for one second before exhaling through your nose to the count of four.

Breathing for labor:
During labor your breathing responds to the way your feel. By breathing calmly and deeply, you will be able to center yourself and surrender to the natural rhythm of contractions. Practice positions for second stage, visualizing contractions, focusing your breath on the exhalation. Centre your awareness on the pelvic floor expanding and opening, and your vagina stretching and opening as the baby descends. Breathe your baby out with each 'out breath'. Be as vocal as you feel comfortable with, as it will help you release tension.

Massage
During pregnancy increased pressure on the body can cause pain & discomfort. By using gentle massage techniques you can reduce the pain and increase your mobility. It is common to experience lower back pain as the baby grows, making room can often mean pushing your organs back towards your spine. Plus the increased weight you are carrying adds pressure to your spine. I gentle massage will relax tense or tied muscles. Encourage your partner to give you a foot, hand or neck massage before bed. It is recommended to seek a professional masseur that specializes in pregnancy techniques for your back, as too much pressure could be damaging.

Yoga and stretching
Yoga & stretching will help you relax and will also keep toned and flexible during pregnancy. Many gyms and health clubs offer yoga and stretch classes; some are designed specifically for pregnant women. Or you can create your own stretch routine with simple moves for your neck and shoulders, back, waist, calves and hamstrings. Although you don't want to work up a sweat too close to bedtime, gently stretching your muscles during the day and before bedtime can make falling asleep a little easier.

Muscle relaxation
It may take you several weeks to master muscle relaxation, but once you do, it can really help you sleep. Lying on your bed or even on the floor, you can release tight muscles by first tensing and then completely relaxing them. Focus on one group of muscles at a time and alternate between your right and left side. Start by tensing and releasing your hand and forearm muscles, followed by your biceps and triceps, face and jaw, chest and shoulders, stomach, thighs, etc until you reach your feet. Rotate the ankles and squeeze and release you toes. It is important to work on your feet circulation as the additional weight you are carrying puts a deal of pressure on your feet.

Aromatherapy
Not all essential oils are safe during pregnancy. Gentler oils are recommended and always use minimum quantities. Oils may be used in the bath, shower, a diffuser or with a massage. Massage oil for labor can be used on the back, but use it only once or twice on abdomen during first stage.
Suitable massage oil for labor, 15 drops of almond, lavender, rose, jasmine, tangerine, mandarin, grapefruit, roman chamomile, neroli or geranium oil.
  • Relaxant: Rose
  • Calming: Neroli, Lavender, Clary-Sage, Nutmeg
  • Circulation: Lavender, Geranium, Nutmeg
  • Confidence: Neroli

Imagination
Picture yourself in a quiet, relaxing scene: Relaxing on a warm sandy beach or walking through a rain forest or sitting under a shady tree in a park. Let your imagination flow to detail the scene, including the sounds, smells, tastes, and textures around you. If you are having trouble, use a photograph or image from a magazine to get you started. It may take some practice, but keep trying, once you master this technique you can use your imagination to calm your anxious or restless mind and help you slip into a deep sleep.

Herbs
Chamomile
Although there is no scientific evidence that chamomile is a mild sedative, many believe that drinking chamomile tea does calm the nerves. Chamomile can help calm the stomach if you are suffing from gastro problems like indigestion and flatulence. Chamomile is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Note: If you're allergic to ragweed or prone to hayfever, you could be allergic to chamomile, too. To find out, hold a small amount of chamomile tea in your mouth for a few seconds and then spit it out. If your mouth itches or feels strange, do not use this herb.

Lavender
Revered by aromatherapists worldwide, lavender has a soothing scent that may help you drift off to sleep. You can sprinkle a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow or add them to a warm bath with some lemon balm. However, not all lavender is tranquilizing: Spanish lavender can actually stimulate your senses.
 

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