We all know that it is good to ‘relax’ and no more so than in labour! However, what does ‘relax’ mean and how do we accomplish this with relative ease?

I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me to “Relax!” it actually can make me more tense and sometimes even a little bit annoyed! Of course, the tone used to say the word and the body language of the person speaking are more powerful than the word itself.

Good advice for Health Care Professional and birth partners is to be more specific. I find it more helpful to say things such as;

‘Let your muscles soften’

‘Let your body become heavy and sink into the bed/chair’

‘Focus for a few moments on your breathing and let your breaths become slow, quiet and deep’

‘Let your shoulders drop’

Gentle touch, eye contact, empathy and a soft tone added to the above facilitate increased relaxation.

Being tense, in labour or at any other time, impacts physical and emotional wellbeing. Having specific ‘tools’ and skills to use helps reduce cortisol and its detrimental effects, plus boosts the feel-good hormones.