The following is a guest post from Victoria over at Yogi Mami.
Pregnancy and labor can be a very overwhelming time filled with many emotions such as excitement and fear. Mind body techniques can help to prepare for this time. While pregnancy is generally reflected in a positive light, the same cannot be said about labor. There is a general sense of negativity that surrounds the labor experience.
Are you confident you know enough about having a natural birth?
With so little natural birth education passed along to mothers-to-be it is no wonder that many women are not confident in their body’s innate ability to birth naturally without narcotics and why medical births have become the new norm. For mother’s who are looking to birth naturally mind body techniques are a great way to prepare for the upcoming childbirth.
Benefits of Mind Body Techniques for Pregnancy and Labor
Practicing mind body techniques such as yoga, relaxation, imagery and meditation offer both psychological and physiological benefits to both mother and baby during pregnancy. These techniques also help to improve comfort during labor and shorten the duration of the overall labor time.
Mind body exercises trigger the relaxation response, which can significantly improve overall health and well-being. Research has shown that when the relaxation response is used on a daily basis it can reduce feelings of depression, anxiety and chronic pain, as well as improve blood pressure, immunity and self-esteem. Relaxation creates endorphins, which help to decrease pain during labor. The purpose is to avoid fear of labor, which causes the release of stress hormones and catecholamine that can increase pain and duration. Yoga, meditation and imagery can be effective methods of helping to achieve complete and total relaxation.
3 Mind Body Techniques to Practice During Pregnancy
Yoga is one of the most popular forms of exercise during pregnancy and combines gentle stretching, relaxation and breathing techniques. This ancient practice increases internal awareness and focus that help to create confidence and trust in the body while also bonding with your baby. It can lower blood pressure and prevents and relieves aches and pains that impinge on the body during pregnancy. Yoga is a great way to build stamina, relax the pelvis and help the baby transition into an optimal birthing position. Prenatal yoga can be practiced at home or by finding a local prenatal yoga class in your area.
Meditation creates melatonin, which is released into the bloodstream during stress inducing times. It also produces endorphins that have very powerful pain relieving effects, similar to morphine. The more dedicated the woman is to her prenatal meditation, the less afraid she will be of preconceived pain prior to the onset of labor. This will allow the woman to be less disturbed by any actual pain felt which creates feelings of joy. Frequent practice results in higher levels of endorphins released during labor. Practicing meditation 10-20 minutes daily has many health benefits as well and is a great addition to a prenatal health regimen.
Imagery and visualization is another powerful tool for women to practice prior to labor. Envisioning a successful labor can help build confidence in the woman’s ability to birth naturally without medical interventions coming into play. Tight and tense muscles can prevent the body from opening, which is essential in order for labor to progress. Practicing imagery and visualization towards the end of your pregnancy and during labor helps to condition the mind and reduce stress and anxiety.
In addition to making pregnancy and labor easier, these mind body techniques also help the post-partum body recover quicker. These modalities prevent and treat post-partum depression and anxiety by allowing the mother some time to herself to nurture her mind-body connection.
With so many physical and hormonal changes going on during this time, it is beneficial for the mother to take some time to decompress and build awareness with her changing body to adapt to each new stage of motherhood.
What kind of things did you do while you were pregnant to prepare for labor?
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