Birth Preparation Exercise

Progressive Relaxation

This exercise should be performed after you have mastered the tense and release exercise. If you have the ability to relax some muscles at will, you are ready for this exercise.

Begin in the most comfortable position that allows your body to relax fully, such as lying on your side. Choose a part of the body to begin with (many women find it is easier to work from one end of the body to the other rather than try to start in the middle and work towards both ends), usually this will be the feet. Relax the muscle group you choose to start with, if you need to tense and relax it a few times that is ok. Be sure the muscle group is very well relaxed before moving on.

Keeping that muscle group as relaxed as possible, relax the muscle group that is next. If you are starting with your feet you will move on to your ankles and calves and then to knees and thighs. The key is to relax each part of your body without losing the relaxation in the muscle groups you have already relaxed.

If you lose the relaxation in your feet while you try to relax your thighs, continue until your thighs are relaxed then go back and relax your feet again. Then work your way back up your leg or jump to your hips if the leg has remained relaxed.

The idea is to learn to relax your entire body at one time. This may seem an overwhelming task, but it is one that will get easier with practice. You may soon find that you surprise yourself with how well you are able to relax your body. It may become difficult to get up quickly if the phone rings or your toddler wakes from a nap, so be sure that you have set aside time to practice your relaxation when you will not be disturbed.

Review Your Work

How easy or difficult is this exercise for you?

What part of your body is the most difficult to relax?

What part of your body is the most difficult to keep relaxed?

In what ways does this exercise feel different after several practice sessions?