When you are in a situation where you feel your heart rate pounding faster, your
stomach tightening, and your breathing becoming shallow, you are experiencing a surge of
adrenaline. Adrenaline is the “fight or flight” hormone that is released when we are
stressed. Relaxation is important in stressful situations to prevent fear and tension.
When we have adrenaline rushes we need to bring our bodies down to earth. Feel the
floor. Listen to your breathing when you inhale and exhale. Look around the room.
Remember that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.
Feel the floor
The Roving Body Check is a relaxation technique that combines patterned breathing with touch relaxation and guided imagery. Notice that “every out-breath is a relaxing breath.” Let your tension flow out of you when you exhale. While you are breathing in, note a particular area where there is tension. Have your partner or friend place their hand firmly on that part. When you breathe out, focus on releasing tension in that area. As you exhale your partner or friend will relax pressure on that part. Repeat this over different tensed body parts. Body parts to focus on: brow and jaw, back of the neck, shoulders and arms, one or both hands, back of the chest, small of the back, hips, and buttocks.
The Roving Body Check
Notice that “every out-breath is a relaxing breath.”
Similarly, you can find a comfortable position that does not require much energy. As you stay in this position actively work on relaxing each body part from the top of your head down to your toes. Tell yourself what part you are relaxing as you go down. When you learn to actively relax your muscles you can eliminate pain and stress.
For practice you can do these techniques while holding a piece of ice in your hand to feel how it reduces the pain.
Relaxation and breathing exercises can be practiced during pregnancy before birth. Abdominal breathing is especially helpful because it increases circulation throughout your body and relaxes your nervous system.
Nervous about how you are going to handle the pain in labor? Check out our doula services below. We are experts in teaching natural techniques for coping with pain.
References and Resources:
DONA International (2011) Birth doula workshop manual
Strange, K. (2012) Simple tools for mothers handout.