Stress Free Mamas blog - Why relaxation is a MUST!

OK so relaxation is a “nice to do”, right?  Nice for pregnant mothers to take the weight of their feet for a while.  Nice for mothers to stop once in a while when they’ve got the kids to bed, fed the husband/partner/dog and finished the washing, cleaning, cooking, etc.  But essentially it’s a nice to do, right?   WRONG!!!!!  Its so much more important than that.


Our children are affected on a physical, mental and emotional level when as mothers we are stressed.


Canadian researchers have determined that stress during pregnancy can permanently alter the DNA of children.  They were able to conduct research following an ice storm which was so stressful on pregnant women, it showed up in the DNA of their kids!    Read more here in Neomatica.


Another study, this time at the University of Denver, shows that stressed mothers may actually show reduced brain activity in response to their own baby's cry in areas of the brain which controls warm, caring, nurturing behaviours.  Read more here at Live Science

And so to bonding, the crucial connection between mother and child, formed in the womb, developed over a lifetime, the quality of which literally shapes the brain.   Without those warm, nurturing behaviours, the bond between mother and child can be eroded.   A study published in 2010 in the journal Biological Psychiatry found that "warm parenting" can reverse the effects of too much cortisol in the womb — but if the stress that led to the production of an unhealthy quantity of cortisol during pregnancy is still around during early motherhood and impacts on bonding, this may compound the issue.

So at this point you may be starting to stress about being stressed .... breathe, relax and take heart.  These same scientists along with a host of others suggest that mothers can shape their children's brains for the better by relaxing and taking life more slowly however far into motherhood they are, though obviously the sooner the better.  

"To truly be with children of any age, we all must have the ability to slow ourselves down and relax into the present moment, because that is where our children live."  Vimala Mcclure  


So relaxing and slowing down are not just “nice” suggestions - they are essential to contented mothers and children.  Relaxation is a skill particularly when faced with the incredible pressures of pregnancy and motherhood.  Its a skill that can be easily learnt.  Here's how:

1) Attend a Relaxation Class 

I offer Pregnancy Relaxation and Mothers Relaxation classes using a blend of mindfulness, meditation, relaxation techniques and Natal Hypnotherapy techniques in Goring.  The first session is free.

If you live elsewhere you may find a good class at one of these sites

2) Get yourself a Relaxation CD or download to listen to regularly

I recommend "Relaxation and Stress Management" by Maggie Howell for general relaxation or her "Pregnancy Relaxation" specifically created for all the stresses and pressures of pregnancy.

3)  Breathe

Breathe steadily and rhythmically whenever you can and particularly when feeling stressed.  You can also try googling breathing techniques if you want to enjoy playing with different techniques that can be really effective at calming and relaxing you.   I like this yoga site for breathing techniques but there are many others. 

4) Learn to relax your body

Here is a great guide to learning to relax completely using deep muscle relaxation techniques.  

5) Get outside

Feel the earth beneath your feet (barefoot is even better), let the air breathe on your skin and the rain or sun fall on your hair and just notice that you're alive.  I guarantee you will feel more relaxed!

6) Do nothing

Do nothing the way children do nothing.  Set yourself an hour a day to enjoy pottering, wallowing in the abundance of time that children experience and allow only tasks that must be done and must be done right now to enter that space.

Harriet Hancock

April 2015