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Being relaxed can make for an easier birth. Here are the best ways to calm yourself during labor.
Labor coach: You're doing just fine. You're strong. You have a strong body. You can do it.
Narrator: For most mothers, getting through labor is like running a marathon. Learning how to relax and stay relaxed -- especially between contractions -- takes preparation and training.
Numerous studies confirm that your birth experience will be much easier -- and potentially shorter and less painful -- if you use one or more relaxation techniques during the course of your labor.
There are dozens of resources you can use, and most hospitals and birth centers offer birthing preparation classes, where they teach you and your partner how to relax and work as a team.
Sarah Updegraft, RN: When you're in an extended state of anxiety and fear during labor, it can actually affect your labor by decreasing the amount of blood and oxygen getting to your uterus, which can affect your contraction pattern and over time might affect how the baby is tolerating the labor.
Narrator: A great place to start is learning how to breathe. Practice deep focused breathing through your nose.
Meredith Jacoby, yoga instructor: So mouth is closed, jaw is relaxed. Breathe in through the nose... and then out of the nose.
Narrator: Breathing fully can ease labor for you and your baby and help you remain calm through contractions.
Prenatal yoga classes can teach you to use visualization to relax.
You'll also learn stress-relieving poses you can use later to ease labor pain.
Slow, wide hip circles are a favorite of many mothers.
Yoga instructor: Hands and knees takes a lot of pressure off the back. Women love to be on their hands and knees, and they love to move their hips.
Inhaling through the nose, exhaling the hips over to the left, out over the backs of the heels, drawing the circle over to the right, out over the palms of the hands, and again to the left. Just let yourself go.
Narrator: There is no one answer. For another mother, relaxation may mean dimming the lights and rotating her hips while sitting on an exercise ball.
Your partner can be a huge help, keeping you calm and relaxed not only by encouraging you…
Partner: Good job, good job.
Narrator: But also by trying simple massage techniques, like using the base of his palms or both thumbs to rub your lower back and spine in an outward motion.
To stay relaxed with back labor, try counterpressure on the sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of the spine) or a technique called the double hip squeeze.
Nurse: By putting equal pressure on either side, it relieves pressure. This one works really well.
Narrator: Find out which relaxation techniques work best for you and your body during pregnancy and make time to practice.
Nurse: If you're trusting of your body, then you're going to be relaxed. The contractions are going to be intense. When the contraction is over, you are going to breathe and let it go and know that that's one step closer to the birth of your baby.