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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Relaxation

Relaxation is beneficial in many ways for your mind and body. It is an important life skill for coping with any stressful situation. Being able to fully relax during labour is a very important coping technique.

 

Fear and Anxiety

Fear and anxiety release hormones in your body that suppress the hormones necessary for labour to be effective.1 It also feeds into the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle:

Fear → ↑Tension → ↑Pain perception → ↑Fear

Relaxation during labour decreases your perception of labour pain and increases the release of the labour and birth hormones that help your labour progress.1

Relaxation Techniques

There are many different types of relaxation techniques. The following are some of the different techniques that you can learn more about:

 

Massage

Pregnant women getting massage

Try using relaxation techniques in combination with other comfort measures like massage.

 

Relaxation techniques take practice because you need to become familiar with how your body feels when it is tense and understand how to release the tension and relax. Relaxation is a skill and like any skill requires practice. With practice it can become more automatic when you are in a stressful situation.

Preparing a safe and relaxing birth environment is also very important to enhance the release of labour and birth hormones 1. For women to feel safe to birth, the birth environment should be:

  • quiet
  • dark
  • uninterrupted
  • familiar

Use of calming music and scents** can also increase feelings of calm and safety.

**Most hospitals have restrictions on scents. Look into hospital policies before bringing anything to the hospital with you.

 
Date of creation: February 19, 2015
Last modified on: August 16, 2019
 

References

1Buckley, S. (2015, January 13). Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care. Retrieved from
http://transform.childbirthconnection.org/reports/physiology/