Step 5 of 12 Essentials for Natural Childbirth: Relaxation, Part 2

Get Ready for Loose and Limp!

Now, assume the classic position and get yourself as comfortable and relaxed as you can. If you then have your husband/coach read the poem I’ve written, you should be able to relax even more. You’ll soon observe how you respond to different words and phrases and begin to think creatively about what other words or routines might be better for you. You may prefer to use a “total body” idea of relaxing and not go to the progressive method that I use. Perhaps you will do best with “pleasant thought” or meditative relaxing.

You will benefit in labor if you teach your husband/partner/coach to relax as you are learning the technique. Try it out with whoever is with you. Prove how relaxing it is to speak softly and caringly. Show how hard it is to keep tension in his or her face when you are offering suggestions of a relaxed face. Demonstrate how a bad position will hinder relaxation. Test out words and touching to see what the response is. When your coach learns to relax, he or she will be better able to help you get to perfect relaxation. It is also a good idea for you to see how hard it is to be in the coaching role. You will be a much better team after this reversal of roles.

I offer what I have used effectively for years as a way of easily teaching others to relax; often a very new skill for many people in our fast living society. So, begin with this and then progress to your own variation. Even if you continue to use my words, you will place your own meaning on them. Relaxing is so personal that I can only teach it the way I feel it. Try to tune in with me and let it work for you.

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Whoever you choose to be with you in your pregnancy journey, have him or her read or “croon” this to you slowly and quietly as a poem or a lullaby, giving time for it to take effect:

Loose and Limp … Warm and Heavy

Let your whole being
Sink slowly, slowly, slowly.
Feel your muscles
Become limp and loose and comfortable.
Drifting or floating,
Relaxed and comfortable,
warmth and heaviness spread through your body.
The baby in your uterus
is warm and heavy.
Feel warmth and heaviness
spreading from the baby to your abdomen, hips,
thighs, knees, lower legs, ankles,
feet and toes.
Slowly, quietly
the lower half of you is
loose and limp, warm and heavy.
The upper half of you awaits its turn.
Slowly release, let go, warm and heavy,
limp and loose.

Let every cell absorb and enjoy,
spreading up your back and front,
chest and shoulders.
Arms and fingers let go.

As your neck releases tension,
your head slowly shifts and becomes
more and more relaxed.
Nearer and nearer that comfortable state of
relaxation.

Erase the worries from your brow,
eyes loose but closed.
Eyes and all around eyes
limp and loose.
Cheeks loosen and droop,
jaw drops.
Tongue is loose in your mouth,
lips part slightly.
Warm, heavy, and comfortable.
Deep, slow, heavy breathing.
Breathe in and out slowly,
abdomen up and down slowly.
Limp and loose,
warm and heavy,
comfortably relaxed.

In your mind’s eye
hold a softly purring kitten in your lap
while sunshine warms you both.
Listen to the laughter of children
sledding on a crisp sparkly snowy hill.
Ride a bicycle on a lazy autumn afternoon,
hair blowing in the wind.
Sit before a roaring, snapping fire
a crisp apple ready to eat.
Watch a robin build her nest,
weaving string and straw with precision.
Lie on the warm sand, you and your love,
while the waves roll up on the beach.

Limp and loose,
warm and heavy,
comfortably relaxed.

WHERE and WHEN:

  • In Labor: During each contraction in the first stage of labor, you will relax completely and breathe abdominally. In between contractions you will not need to relax but you might fall asleep!
  • Preparing for labor: will take much practice, so relax whenever you can lie down for a nap and every night as you go to bed. It takes only minutes and will help you relax for sleep.

One good way to test yourself is to spend two minutes on the floor with a soft rug at the busiest time of your day. You may have a toddler pulling at your eyelids and asking, “Are you asleep, Mommy?” That is very good preparation for labor, when you must ignore your environment and concentrate on yourself.

Warning:
Falling asleep is not good relaxing practice.
You have stopped concentrating on your relaxation or you’d never fall asleep.
So stay awake and think hard.

You can relax at other times, too, of course. I do think it best to lie down, but sometimes you could sit in a chair and try to loosen your body as much as possible. Any efforts to relax will help you become better at it.

It works spectacularly with children. Are your children rowdy at bedtime? Just use your relaxing voice and words to calm them down. It’s magic!
When I am teaching Relaxing Techniques to groups—some are mothers-to be, their husbands/partners, coaches, Doulas, Midwives, healthcare professionals—anyone who is involved with the care of the mother, it’s not uncommon to have multiple little ones crawling around.

Of course they hate it when their mother lies down, closes her eyes and begins to relax. The child feels ignored. For a few minutes there is mild confusion. I begin my soft, crooning relaxing words. The mother will usually put a comforting hand on the child and soon everyone becomes comfortable and quiet. Moms and babies calmly relax. It always works!

During labor you will need to work very hard mentally to keep your body loose and limp all the while your uterus is contracting extremely hard. Your contractions will rarely last more than a minute and two minutes is unusually long. In between contractions you can change position or stretch.

Rhondda’s Aha

In very hard labor, you may even fall asleep in between contractions and when the next one wakes you, concentrate on your relaxing and go back to serious abdominal breathing.

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