Pain-free birth tricks
Whether you plan to use medication or not, learning a few mental tricks to cope with the rigours of labour is a good idea for any pregnant woman. "Just as you get your body ready to cope with the physical rigours of birth, it's important to prepare yourself mentally, especially by practising relaxation during pregnancy," says Pinky McKay, author of Parenting By Heart (Penuin). Here are some mental tricks to ease the pain of childbirth.
Listen to soothing music
Whether it's Tina Arena or Tchaikovsky, finding out which music helps you feel relaxed is a way to switch off from the intensity of labour. "You may find it helpful to listen to soothing music and condition yourself to relax to a particular piece," says Pinky. "You can then use this during labour and later, when you are breastfeeding. Some mothers report that this approach also has calming effects on their baby after she is born."
Use mental imagery
Mental imagery, or conjuring up a feeling of calm, is another powerful mental trick that you can use to help feel relaxed and in control during childbirth. "Athletes use mental imagery to help them achieve peak performance. Conjure up some relaxing images and peaceful scenes (rolling waves, waterfalls, walking along a beach - whatever soothes you) and meditate on these during the later months of pregnancy so that you can also recall them and relax during labour," advises Pinky.
Practice deep abdominal breathing
Deep, slow abdominal breathing can help relax your body and mind during labour, although it's key to start practicing a breathing routine in the weeks before your due date. "Start by sitting in a comfortable, supported position. Relax. Place one hand on your abdomen and inhale through your nose, breathing deeply into your abdomen," explains Pinky. "When you have inhaled as much and as deeply as you can, pause for a few seconds. Then slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat several times, working up to ten breaths twice a day. If you feel yourself becoming light-headed or dizzy, slow down your breathing."
Calmbirth classes gives women vital skills to help deal with labour and birth. Based on the principles of visualisation, relaxation and deep breathing, Calmbirth has been proven to reduce anxiety, levels of stress hormones in the body, lower blood pressure, boost your pain tolerance levels and your immune system.
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This article was written by Joanna Bounds for Kidspot, New Zealand's best pregnancy resource.
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