Some feelings of anxiety regarding lifestyle changes, adjustments to pregnancy and anticipation of the future are common for new families. The art of relaxation will be one of the most valuable skills you will learn for dealing with the challenges of pregnancy, birth and life with your baby. Keep the relaxation exercises simple and practice them often. There are many techniques for relaxation. A good resource to start with is the book:
- The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson, MD
Deep abdominal breathing is the most efficient method of breathing for you and your baby. This technique helps you to relax and begin preparing for birth. The benefits of this type of breathing include:
- Amore efficient air exchange
- Dcreased tension
- Srengthening of the abdominal muscles
The best time to practice deep abdominal breathing is when you are relaxed, usually in the morning or late in the evening when you are sleepy. Other muscles are less likely to want to work, and true isolation of the abdominal muscles can be achieved.
- Lie down on a comfortable surface with your knees bent or on your side with a pillow between your knees.
- Relax your body as much as possible, allowing your weight to sink into the surface on which you are lying.
- Gently put your hands on your abdomen, close your eyes and notice your breathing. Feel your hands rising as you inhale and falling as you exhale.
- Continue to breathe slowly while focusing on your breathing. It is not unusual to feel movement only in your chest, indicating shallow chest breathing. Be patient and continue breathing slowly, focusing on the movement of your hands and abdomen.
- Focus on performing the two actions together. When the exhalation or breathing out is completed, your abdominal muscles are fully contracted or tight. Practice making your abdominal movements smooth and easy, directed by your breathing.