The class was similar to the one the week before, we started with stretching, then went onto aerobics, muscle strengthening and finished with relaxation (my favourite part).
I felt like I worked a bit harder this time as I’d learnt from the last session what I felt comfortable doing. What I especially loved about this week was the cheeky mamba moves that were added in. They really relieved the tension in my lower back and even made me feel a little bit sexy! We also learnt to position ourselves on all fours, and pretend we were cats trying to look at our tails. By raising our hips and turning side to side it was another great reliever for my lower back pain!
Onto the relaxation
As for the relaxation we simply had to find a comfortable spot, the lights went down and with light music in the background we were talked through relaxation techniques for labour. I found them so helpful and I’ll definitely be trying them out if I’m still in the zone and able to remember. Here’s what I learnt:
You want to relax every muscle in your body. Why? Because when you are tense your body releases ‘fight or flight’ chemicals which go back to caveman times of when faced with danger e.g. a dinosaur your body makes instinctive decisions as to whether to fight it or run away. Of course a baby isn’t quite on the scale of a dinosaur but it’s still a pretty scary experience right!?
Adrenaline and noradrenaline are two main chemicals that are produced, these can increase your heart rate, blood pressure and perspiration. They can also reduce the blood flow to your skin and reduce your stomach activity.
Cortisol is also produced which can reduce the efficiency of your immune system.
Alone these symptoms may not seem too bad, but when you team them with the emotional and behavioural side effects of tension, stress, and labour they can make the process a lot more difficult then it needs to be.
Start from the top and work your way down –
Raise your eyebrows repeatedly to smooth out the tension. When tense we often frown which put’s pressure on our heads often causing nasty headaches.
Next focus on your mouth. Are you clenching your teeth and jaw? Open and close your mouth, this may make you feel like a fish but when you’re in labour I’m sure you won’t care! Smile (as much as you’d prefer to snarl at your partner), pucker your lips and let your mouth rest with your teeth and mouth open a jar.
Next your neck and shoulders. Often when we’re tense our shoulders end up right up by our ears. Lower your shoulders, roll your next one way and then the other and wiggle your shoulders.
Now your want to work on your arms. Stretch them up, above your head and out in front of you, bend your elbows a few times, circle your wrists clockwise then anticlockwise and wiggle your fingers. Place them back down in a comfy position, often this is on your bump, thighs or rested somewhere.
Lastly your legs. Give them a shake, bend at your knees, rotate your ankles in both directions, flex your feet and wiggle your toes.
and breathe ….
Always remember to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. It is the out breathe that relieves tension so a really useful tip I was given was to take normal breaths in but focus on making the breaths out longer.
Obviously this whole process isn’t something you’ll be doing during a contraction but it is meant for the time between contractions. The more relaxed you are at the beginning of a contraction, the better!
For me, after a workout class, in a dark room and with no signs of labour, this really worked. I know it’ll be a completely different scenario when it comes to labour day but I’m definitely going to keep practising the techniques and hope that the are second nature by the time my contractions start.
I also found the music really relaxing, it was Corinne Bailey Rae – Like a star. I’m going to download it and use it whenever I practise the relaxation and then maybe if I play it during my labour it’ll lend me a helping hand?
What relaxation tips have you guys heard of or used? I’d love some more tips on how to relax during labour!