- Before Bed
This is the stand-by of many families. Just as you are heading to bed you can have your partner join you to spend a few minutes doing relaxation or you can do it alone. The benefit here is that it can often help you sleep more soundly for a longer period. Though it is important to not equate relaxation with sleep, so this should not be your only period of relaxation.
- First Thing in the Morning
Spend a few minutes after you’ve gotten up by practicing relaxation. This is another fairly quiet time of the day. If you don’t have time during your work week, try this on the weekends.
- At Work
If you have a desk job or if you have a place where you can go to be fairly alone, even if it’s not quiet, use a few minutes of your day to practice relaxation. It’s a great way to sneak in a few extra minutes, even if you always practice alone at work. This also gives a totally different feel to your relaxation. Remember, you may have some Braxton Hicks contractions that require some concentration before labor begins, practicing what you’ll do at work can help you later in pregnancy.
- In Your Car
Don’t laugh but doing relaxation in the car can be really beneficial. You, however, should not be driving. Think of this as a practice run for heading to the hospital. Have your partner talk you through a guided relaxation or even a tense release relaxation exercise a few times in the car. If you can’t think of it any other time, do it on your way to childbirth class, your prenatal appointments, etc. You can even play your labor sound track in the car to add to the scene.
- Bath Time
This can be a nice time to work on feeling relaxed. Your partner can pour warm water over your belly, you can play music – whatever works for you. Be careful to avoid relaxing alone in the tub. This can also be done in the shower.
In addition to getting more relaxation time, these steps will also help you practice your relaxation exercises in a variety of settings. The real benefit of this will be in labor, where you aren’t simply in a bed in your home. You might be at work when labor starts. You will probably need to drive to the birth center or hospital to give birth. These are all situations that you probably don’t think of as being relaxing.
If you find that you have a lot of trouble relaxing in one position or in one setting, consider trying to relax there more often. This inability to relax may be over come with more practice. Do not be discouraged by trouble spots.
It is also important to remember that you don’t have to practice with someone all the time. Practicing alone is also beneficial. You can do it in a variety of settings, with a variety of noises or music to help you. It’s also a great way to try out your play list before labor.
You will also want to try various relaxation exercises. This includes breathing deeply, yoga positions, labor positions, and types of relaxation. (There are three: mental, emotional and physical.) One or two may surface as your favorites. These are great for labor but do not neglect others because when labor happens, you never know which method of relaxation will wind up being the one or two that work best for you. This is true even if you have had a baby before. The more skills you learn, the more you will have to draw from in labor. That’s the best way to cope with labor!