Physical Relaxation is one of the three basic skills that contribute to a calm, more comfortable birth for both mum and bub. The other two are breath control and understanding how to work with the physiology of your body and birth. The BirthSkills program of childbirth preparation covers all three of these, and other supporting techniques, in great depth.
BirthSkills Online Childbirth Preparation.
Having the ability to relax your body, quickly and easily is a learned skill, one that needs to be practiced. But once mastered, it allows you to have control over how you respond to the process and sensations of labour.
Dr Shari Read

Try our Progressive Relaxation Script – ask a partner to read this slowly to you while you are sitting or lying in a comfortable, supported position:

Progressive Relaxation Script
Begin by asking your partner to sit or lie in a comfortable position with arms and legs un-crossed, offer them pillows or cushions for support.
Remind your partner to think about their breathing and to use the sleep breathing technique, in for 4 and out for 6 or 8.

Just allow your eyes to gently close. Don’t force them shut. Just allow your eyelids to gently meet and feel how comfortable it is to just sit with your eyes gently closed. In a few moments you will be in one of the most relaxed states you have ever known. You’ll continue to hear the sound of my voice and other sounds around you but none of these will interfere with your ability to go very deeply into relaxation. Place your awareness on your becoming increasingly relaxed.

Now place your awareness back to your eyes and feel all of the little muscles in and around your eyes relaxing, and as the muscles around your eyes relax, you become aware that your eyelids are closing even more thoroughly. And as your eyelids close more thoroughly all of the little worry lines around your eyes begin to fade and disappear. And now it seems that your eyelids are closing more tightly, so much so that it seems they are beginning to feel as though they were sealed shut. As though there was some kind of glue on the edges of your eyelids. Your eyes feel locked shut.

Feel how comfortable it is to sit with your eyes closed and with that wonderful feeling of relaxation beginning to drift through your body.

Allow the wave of relaxation to gently drift down and around your cheeks and into your jaw, around your mouth, and feel the relaxation cause your lower jaw to become heavy and drop.

Now the relaxation begins to drift through and around your neck and the top of your shoulders. You feel the muscles in your shoulders becoming loose and limp. So relaxed that your shoulders just want to sink into the frame of your body. Just relax and let go.

Now the relaxation drifts down and across your upper arms, your elbows, your lower arms and all the way down to your wrists. Your arms are relaxing and becoming limp. And now from your wrists all the way down to the tips of your fingers, your hands feel so very relaxed, fingers so relaxed that they begin to feel larger and numb. Both of your hands begin to feel larger, numb – almost as though they were soft, limp, pieces of leather.

And now every muscle, every nerve and every cell throughout your entire body, like a series of dominoes, gently tilted, drift down, down, down, as you find yourself going deeper and deeper into relaxation.

(pause in silence for 1-3 minutes)

Now let that wonderful wave of relaxation move down through your stomach, your abdomen and into your legs. Feel your legs becoming loose and limp, totally relaxed and comfortable. Allow that pleasant feeling of relaxation to drift all the way down through your legs until your legs feel heavy, heavier and heavier, like logs of wood.

And now allow the relaxation to flow around your ankles and your feet and into the soles of your feet, right to the very tips of your toes. Feel the soft tingling of relaxation all through the soles of your feet. Totally relaxed and ready to allow your mind to go where it will. As you bring yourself deeper and deeper into this comfortable state of total relaxation.

(pause and allow your partner to enjoy this feeling 1-3 minutes)

Now as you sit/lie totally relaxed, you are free to see yourself easily and comfortably birthing your baby. See how happy you are at the thought that your baby will soon be with you. Know how calm and comfortable you are in your birthing body, and how confident you are in your ability to bring your baby into this world. Your relaxation allows you to work with nature to birth your beautiful baby, safely and comfortably.

(pause and allow your partner to visualise this scene)

(you can skip the next section if your partner would like to remain in this calm and relaxed state and drift off to sleep or if you are using this script during labour)

In a moment, i will count you up from 1 to 5 and, as i do, you will feel the energy coming back into your body – mind alert and refreshed…..1…..2…..3…..coming up slowly…..4…..becoming aware of your surroundings, the sounds around you, the feeling of your clothes on your skin…..5…..mentally alert, physically energised and spiritually calm.

You are welcome to download this script as a pdf – the more you practice, the better you will be at relaxation, the more naturally it will come to you during labour.