Yeah, that's kind of what I'm talking about. During labor and birth, your support team will be encouraging you to let it go... all of it. Physically, emotionally, and mentally. Labor and birth is an event unlike any other in your life - one which challenges you in all three of these areas, providing an intensity that brings you to a very primal place of reckoning within yourself.
For that reason, let's look at some practical and concise ways to encourage letting go during pregnancy, and in preparation for birth.
First off, be sure to protect your bubble of peace during pregnancy by letting only positive and empowering stories and words into your heart and mind. Women love to give advice and tell 'big fish' birthing stories to each other. One simple thing you can say to stop negativity in it's tracks is, "please only share positivism with me, my baby is listening."
Read books that encourage education and preparation in a non-threatening and positive way. Books will give you education and tips/skills to help you through the labor and birth process.
Practice physically letting go through conscious recognition of tension. An easy exercise for this is when you have to use the restroom, either #1 or #2.. .in fact, getting used to the sensations of both is actually helpful. When first sitting down on the toilet, remain in tension for a moment, notice how your pelvic floor is clenched. Then, take in a deep breath and, on the exhale, release the tension in your pelvic floor, allowing you to go to the bathroom... this exact sensation is what you need to accomplish during labor with every single contraction. You can do this as often as you like, and I recommend practicing this a ton in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy.
Practicing progressive relaxation will condition you to physically release tension - which is a helpful tool for labor and birth. Find a good one, either through Hypnobabies, Hypnobirthing, or even YouTube, and practice it at least 3 times a week.
And finally, practice being open and honest with your partner and birth team about any anxiety or worries that you have while preparing for birth. Two things are accomplished with this simple practice. One, you may be able to let go of some of these before your birthing time even begins. And two, if you can't, you are at least practicing honest self-evaluation - which will come in handy during your birthing time in the event any of these worries or anxieties come up during it.
During labor and birth, there are some key tips and tricks to help you remember to let it all go...
First off, use words that help you let go. These words might be "limp and loose", "release and relax", "soft and open", or even "let go...". Your partner and birth team can help you by repeating these to you at the start of every contraction, and use reminders throughout the peak of each contraction as well.
Now speaking of words (pun intended) let's touch on your own vocals. Prior posts have spoken extensively on the power of your labor sounds. More specifically, you can practice prenatally, and use in labor, the HA breath. Open your mouth and let your jaw hang throughout. Make what noises sound loose and limp, roll your head on your shoulders in broad sweeping circles. If you feel your jaw and neck muscles resisting, blow "horse lips".
When you feel a contraction begin, shake out any tension in your hands, arms, hips, or knees before it climbs to it's peak. This will help you set your body into a state of 'no tension allowed' and wipe the slate clean during each contraction.
Remember that toilet training from earlier? Practice that same 'letting go' during each and every contraction. Check in with your buttocks and pelvic floor and make sure it is in a state of looseness. If you pass gas or pee a little, that's fine. It means you are completely relaxed in the area it matters most.
If you are in a position that you aren't using your hands to support you, place your hands palm up. This keeps you from referring tension to your hands.
Remember to voice any negativity or anxiety/worry that comes into your mind and heart. Talking it out allows you to move over that hurdle instead of stepping onto a hamster wheel of negativity. Remember, your birth team can only help you as much as they know what you need.
And that, my friends, is my list of practical ways to let go during labor!