You're getting very sleepy...(just kidding)
I don't consider myself to be a particularly high-strung or stressed-out individual, but I do get nervous. Before important phone calls, presentations, conversations — my heart beats more quickly, my breathing becomes more shallow and (twice) my lips have gone numb and my hands all a-tingle. A few months ago, just thinking about the "labor and delivery" part of this journey started me on that same path: Shifty eyes, an uncertain feeling, the realization that I have no idea or control over what lies ahead.
This is part of the reason why my exercise of choice during pregnancy has been yoga. With the help of Mamaste, the Prenatal Yoga Center and the childbirth section of my local library, I've been able to practice all-important hip-openers, sciatica cures and general meditation/relaxation exercises that have put me more at ease — honestly — about this coming Spring and my officially becoming Mom.
Because when it comes down to it, keeping your body relaxed rather than tensed during delivery is, I imagine, very helpful both mentally and physically. I don't know how my husband's going to calm his own nerves (he thinks yoga is "boring"), but I have some ideas for my own personal use.
- A "Relax" playlist. Right now I'm using the New Age XM radio channel on DirecTV for any non-DVD-accompanied yoga sessions, and I love it. It's like being at the spa. But I don't have any of that kind of music on my iPod. Do I buy a yoga (music) CD? Anyone have any suggestions? Tunes to download? Most of the music is pretty obscure, but if I'm bored in the hospital waiting to dilate I think I'd rather listen to relaxing music and rest than watch reruns of The People's Court on TV.
- Lavender-scented body cream. If I need a foot rub or a neck massage while fighting through contractions, to me there aren't many more relaxing scents than perhaps lavender and eucalyptus. Again, just the scent of lavender makes me think of hot-stone massages and the best-in-the-world post-massage shower at my favorite city spa. This should help, and it's already packed in a bag for the hospital (with only two other things so far — I'm not that organized).
- Deep breaths. I recently read in one of the free OB-office pregnancy magazines that saying or humming the "ah" sound can assist during labor, for whatever reason I can't recall. But it also said to figure out what sound works for you, and I've noticed in my yoga practice that I just can't get myself into the whole "ha" sound used in Ujjayi breathing. Each time I'm reminded to do it, I realize that I'm making an "ooh" sound. And you know what? That's fine! That's my sound. It's probably the most common one, also, the most natural reflex, so that's what I'm going with. And it works. Inhale, exhale. See? Better already.
- Prayer. Most everyone I know believes in some sort of deity, whether referred to as God, Buddha, Holy One or what have you. And one of my New Year's resolutions this year was to talk less and pray more, or, really, engage in less negative talk about others and pray for their well-being instead. But I've found now that I'm stopping more throughout the day to just pray about anything. Thanks for making that call go well; please let me pass this test; we praise you for bringing another survivor out of the wreckage in Haiti. It helps. It relaxes me. Even if you don't know where to start, try it.
- Don't worry about it. Or, better yet, don't even think about it. Yes, I'm pregnant, yes, it's amazing this miracle of life that's growing inside of me, but if I really sit back and think about that and only that 24/7, I start to go a little crazy. Endless phone calls, obsessive cleaning, frantically scribbled shopping lists, hastily gobbled French fries (part of why I'm giving up fried foods for Lent). And while putting something out of your mind sometimes results in the now-that's-all-I-can-think-about syndrome (like trying not to eat more fudge), this one actually works when combined with the steps above. For now, at least, I've made it over the neurotic hump. Everything will be fine because I have no reason to think otherwise.
What do you do to relax? Any tips or tricks you'd like to share? I'd love to hear it!