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PAIN RELIEF- Prepared child birth

Relaxation Techniques

Learning to relax is not just for labour but for your whole lifetime. This will benefit both you and your partner during your entire pregnancy.

In a pregnant woman it can help in:

  • Providing a stress-free period during the antenatal period helping in preparing the woman and also in growth of the foetus.
  • Decreasing the tension, fatigue, discomfort and pain of labour. It also increases the oxygen going to the baby.
  • Helps in providing a stress-free period during pueperium (i.e.:after delivery). Thus helping in lactation and bonding between the couple and little one.

A few hints to help you in practicing the relaxation techniques are:

  • Get into a comfortable position. You may choose a side lying / semi-reclining / standing or a supine position.
  • Choose an external or internal focus point like a point on a wall, a picture or your partner face.
  • Try to think about something pleasant to enhance relaxation.
  • Soft music being played in the background can be helpful.
  • Concentrate on slow breathing arriving at your own rate and depth.
  • Stroking / effleurrage done by self or spouse is helpful.
  • Your spouse / partner can help by checking for the relaxation of various parts of the body, giving you commands and help in touch relaxation as described below.

Ways To Relax

Always start by doing slow breathing.

Body awareness / tension recognition / contract relax method:

This helps you in recognizing various groups of muscle in your body. Hence your partner gives you a verbal cue to tense / contract a particular part of the body. For e.g.: Contract or squeeze your hands. In response you will slowly inhale through your nose and make a tight fist. And then slowly exhale through you mouth and relax the fist. 
Your partner will check for both these responses:
 A reference table is provided below: 

Verbal Cue

1st action – Inhale through nose. 

2nd action – Exhale through mouth.

Pull up the toes.

Tense the toes by spreading.

Relax the toes.

Squeeze the feet.

Squeeze the feet and bring toes together.

Relax the feet.

Turn out the ankles

Tense the ankle out

Relax the ankle

Bend the knee.

Flex knee tightly.

Let the knee and the leg drop.

Squeeze your thigh.

Press thigh inwards.

Relax the thigh.

Tighten the buttocks.

Tense the buttocks.

Relax the buttocks.

Arch your back.

Tense the upper and lower back .

Relax the back.

Pull in your abdomen.

Tense the abdomen muscles.

Relax the abdomen muscles.

Expand your chest.

Fill the lungs with air completely.

Relax the chest.

Press your shoulders back.

Tense the shoulders by pressing them as far back as possible.

Relax the shoulders.

Sling the shoulders.

Tense and lift the shoulders.

Relax the shoulders.

Make a fist.

Make a tight fist.

Relax the hand / open the fist.

Look sky-wards.

Extend your head as far back as possible.

Relax head and bring it to normal position.

Clench your teeth.

Clench your teeth.

Relax the jaw.

Squeeze your face.

Squeeze your face like when squinting and looking at the sun.

Relax your face.

Lift your eyebrows.

Lift the eyebrows.

Drop the eyebrows.

Touch Relaxation

Have your partner stroke parts of your body and in response to his touch relax that part / group of muscles.During labour your partner can identify the tense muscle groups in your body and touch them. You will have a conditioned reflex and will relax those parts of the body.The touch of the partner should be with a relaxed but firm hand and you should relax towards your partner’s hand. For this exercise the sequence can be as follows:

(A)   Partners Verbal Cue  (B) Your action  (C) Partners touch.  =   Your Reaction.
 Example:(A)  Tense your abdomen 
(B) Pull in your abdomen by contracting abdomen muscles  (C) Partner touches the abdomen =  Relax the abdomen. 

This can be done for various groups of muscles as in “Body Awareness”  

       Verbal cue

Your action

Partner’s action

Your reaction

Contract forehead.

Wrinkle your forehead.

Place a hand on the forehead.

Relax your forehead.

Tense your face.

Squint your face.

Stroke the face.

Relax your face.

Tense your right arm.

Contract your fist and entire right arm.

Place a hand on the fist and then stroke the entire right arm.

Relax your fist and right arm.

Tense your left arm.

Contract your fist and entire left arm.

Place a hand on the fist and then stroke the entire left arm.

Relax your fist and left arm.

Tense your abdomen.

Pull in your tummy.

Place the hand on the abdomen.

Relax your abdomen.

Tense your shoulders.

Press your shoulder blades back.

Stroke the shoulder.

Relax your shoulder.

Press your thighs together.

Press both your thighs together.

Stroke the thighs.

Relax your thighs.

Press your thighs downward.

Press the floor

Place the hand on the thighs.

Lift your legs off from the floor.

Tense your right leg.

Stiffen your right leg with toes upwards.

Place the hand on right leg, move downwards.

Relax your leg.

Tense your left leg.

Stiffen your left leg with toes upwards.

Place the hand on left leg, move downwards.

Relax your leg.

Tense your neck.

Raise your chin and bend your head back.

Place the hand on the neck.

Relax, look in front and let your chin fall down.

Tense your back.

Arch your back.

Place the hand on the back.

Relax your back.

Tense your right foot.

Squeeze your right foot.

Stroke the right sole.

Relax your right foot.

Tense your left foot.

Squeeze your left foot.

Stroke the left sole.

Relax your left foot.


Progressive or Total Body Relaxation

Here you try to relax the muscles without first contracting them. You can focus on all parts of the body one by one, from head to toe and relax them.
Another way is to let your partner guide you by telling you to relax each part one by one and you in turn try to respond by focussing on that part and relaxing it. The end is to achieve
In between these 3 ways of relaxation do stop for some time and do slow breathing exercises. Practice these techniques regularly and religiously with your partner throughout your pregnancy and you will find them to be your best companion during labour and life long.


Recommended:  book
"The new parent"
by author Martha




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