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Nine Months : Relaxing in your pregnancy

Q: Why is it important to learn to relax in pregnancy?

A: The more relaxed you are, the more comfortable your pregnancy will be and the more you will enjoy it. Your mind and body will work better; you will feel healthier, and your baby will thrive. You will have more energy without tension and stress, because these are physically draining. You will also sleep better.

Q: What is the difference between resting and relaxation?

A: During the day when you take a rest, or when you are sitting in a chair watching TV, you may be physically resting, but not necessarily relaxed: your mind may be active and your body could feel stiff and tense. Reaching a state of complete relaxation enables you to switch off from worries and achieve a calm, positive frame of mind; this will allow your body and muscles to unwind and any tension to ebb away.

Q: How will learning relaxation techniques help me?

A: If you practise relaxation techniques regularly, you will find that they provide a short break from physical and mental stress and make it easier to deal with day-to-day pressures. You will be more aware of how your body feels when it is tense, and learn how to relieve the tension. This is particularly useful during pregnancy, when sleep may be difficult; relaxation techniques can also help relieve anxiety and therefore help with pain during labour.

Q: What is the best position for sleeping?

A: Sleeping on your side is the best; it takes the weight off your back and thus your circulation, which allows an unrestricted flow of blood to the placenta and baby. This position also allows you to try the relaxation techniques.

Sleeping on your front or your back feels uncomfortable and is not advisable.

Q: What benefits will I gain from massage in pregnancy?

A: Massage is an aid to relieving pain and stiffness in muscles. It gives you a great feeling of well-being; it releases tension and restores and boosts vitality; your circulation is stimulated by a massage, which can have either a calming or an invigorating effect.

Regular massages during pregnancy will help you to relax and will reduce tiredness as well as relieve any aches and pains, particularly backache.

Q: How is a massage done?

A: A massage is done by stroking, rubbing and kneading gently and rhythmically the muscles and soft tissues, usually with hands, sometimes with specialist tools. The entire experience is soothing and restorative.

Q: Which essential oils can I use?

A: Chamomile, geranium, grapefruit, jasmine, lavender, mandarin, neroli, rose, sandalwood, tangerine and ylang ylang are recommended in pregnancy.

Q: Which essential oils should not be used in pregnancy?

A: Basil, clary, sage, hyssop, juniper berry, marjoram, myrrh, pine, rosemary, sage, thyme and bay should not be used in pregnancy.

Q: Can I use essential oils in the bath?

A: When you are pregnant, you should always use the minimum quantities shown on the bottle.

In a bath use 2-4 drops of 'permitted' essential oils, put in before you get into the bath. Remember not to have the bath water too hot as it is not very good for you and the oils evaporate too quickly in the hot water. Lie back and relax for 15/20 minutes. Turn the light low or burn a candle. Think about your favourite place.

In the shower, you can drop some oil onto a sponge and sponge yourself down with it.

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