4 relaxation techniques for expecting mamas

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

When you’re pregnant, it can feel like both the most exciting and the most overwhelming time in your life. You have so much to look forward to in the time ahead but also so much to worry about from childbirth, motherhood, and beyond.

Not only do you have future fears on your mind, but your body is also going through incredible changes that can be taxing and tiring. Shifts in hormones and literal growing pains can make everything more intense, including your stress and anxiety.

But, thankfully, there are ways to cope. Various relaxation techniques can help to ease your anxiety, relax your physical body, and calm your mind so that you feel more able to take on the life-enriching tasks ahead.

4 relaxation techniques for calm during pregnancy

These four techniques are all intended to help make you feel better during your pregnancy. However, every pregnancy and every person is different. So if any of these techniques increase your anxiety or simply don’t feel good for you for any reason at all, then skip them and find something else that works better for your individual needs.

Humming bee breath

Pranayama, or breathwork, can be a really effective tool to help relax both the body and the mind. This simple technique uses a calming breath pattern to set a rhythm for thoughts to flow and tension to release from your body. This practice also vibrates your vocal cords, which may help to stimulate your “rest-and-digest” response by activating your vagus nerve.

To practice:

  • Start in any comfortable position. You may wish to sit in a chair or on the floor or recline on a couch or bed.

  • Create length in your spine and relax your muscles.

  • Either soften your gaze or close your eyes and draw your awareness inward.

  • Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale deeply through your nose while releasing a “humming” sound.

  • Continue to breathe in this soothing way for a few minutes.

Contract and relax

This relaxation technique helps to soothe your nervous system by systematically contracting muscles and then consciously releasing those contractions to allow your physical body to release long-held, perhaps even undetected, tension.

To practice:

  • Start in any comfortable position. You may wish to sit in a chair or on the floor or recline on a couch or bed.

  • Either soften your gaze or close your eyes and draw your awareness inward.

  • Start at your feet: actively contract the muscles of your feet and toes. Squeeze everything in tightly. Hold for a moment in this contracted state and then consciously release the contractions with an exhalation.

  • Work your way up your body systematically contracting and then relaxing the muscles of your calves, thighs, hips, abdomen, chest and upper back, upper arms, forearms, hands, neck, and face.

  • Finally, contract every muscle in your body simultaneously. Squeeze everything tightly and hold for a deep breath in. As you exhale, let everything soften and relax.

  • Surrender into this relaxed state for a few minutes.

Calming visualisation

Visualisation is a powerful tool to create serenity and calm. You can think positively about whatever it is that you may feel stressed about. If you’re worried about childbirth, visualise a perfect delivery. If you’re concerned about motherhood, visualise being the perfect mother. Visualise the details of whatever it is that you need to feel better about.

To practice:

  • Start in any comfortable position. You may wish to sit in a chair or on the floor or recline on a couch or bed.

  • Either soften your gaze or close your eyes and draw your awareness inward.

  • Take a moment to think about what concerns you the most in this moment—whether that’s labour and delivery, disciplining your child, etc.

  • Once you’ve decided what is most concerning to you in this moment, visualise whatever it is going perfectly. Imagine every single detail of the event. Be specific about everything that is happening.

  • Sit with your visualisation of everything going well for as long as you’d like. Imagine yourself willing this into becoming your future reality.

Mindful awareness

This simple practice of non-judgement is perfect for when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Become mindfully aware of the present moment to feel more grounded and rooted in the here and now.

To practice:

  • Start in any comfortable seated position. You may wish to sit in a chair or on the floor.

  • Look around the space that you’re sitting in. Notice five things in this space that are yellow. Then identify five things that are circular.

  • Once you’ve become fully aware of your surroundings, either soften your gaze or close your eyes. Draw your awareness inside.

  • Become aware of your breath. Without judgement, simply notice if it’s fast or slow, shallow or deep, effortless or laboured, etc.

  • Become aware of how you’re holding your physical body. Without judgement, simply notice if you’re holding tension or if you’re relaxed, if you’re sitting up tall or slouching, if you’re still or fidgeting, etc.

  • Become aware of your thoughts. Without judgement, simply notice if your mind is active or clear, if you’re thinking about things relative to this moment in time, if you’re living in the present or thinking about the past or future, etc.

  • By just becoming aware of all of these things, you may find yourself consciously relaxing into the moment. Your breath may become slower. Your body may become more relaxed. Your thoughts may slow.

  • Give yourself permission to simply be here—right now—in this moment. And mindfully indulge in the present for as long as you’d like.

Whether these techniques work for you or not, it’s important to find ways to relax that work well for you during your pregnancy. Connect deeply with your body, your breath, your mind, and your baby to ease stress and anxiety when you’re expecting and prepare you for the exciting road ahead.

The better you are able to handle stress now, the better prepared you will be to tackle stress during motherhood and beyond.


About Leah Sugerman

Leah Sugerman is a yoga teacher, writer, and passionate world traveller. An eternally grateful student, she writes about and teaches a fusion of the styles she has studied with a strong emphasis on finding the balance between strength and surrender. Leah teaches workshops, retreats, and trainings both online and internationally. Connect with Leah and follow her teachings and travels on Instagram, Facebook, and LeahSugerman.com.


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