I've never been a big fan of "regular relaxation practice" for birth prep. I completely value what a relaxed state of mind and body can provide for us; however, I think there are much bigger struggles with couple's relationships, fear, and birth trust than a way to relax. So, in addition to various relaxation techniques, I like to incorporate couple bonding practices into my birth classes and really have to work at adapting these to each different class as every couple is so different and many times it is just the mom attending class. The one thing I find very important to bring back comfort into a relationship as well as see the value of taking time for the other person is "three nice things."
It starts off the first week of the 10 week series and couples laugh. They are told to take each other's hands and look each other in the eye. This is hard for them, quite hard. They feel very uncomfortable and watched. They feel like what they say is going to be "wrong" either in my eyes or their partner's eyes. They don't want the other couples to hear. This is a wonderful learning lesson. How will it be when mom is in labor expecting intimate support and love and connection in such a stale, new, and unfamiliar environment? Big points for choosing the right location and birth team. Our culture is so used to being amped up on adrenaline, when the oxytocin starts to flow, we're not really sure what to do.
This awkwardness continues. Adrenaline starts to rise and after they find their whispering level, the eyes start moving around. I get things together for class, or clean up, and in some way mind my own business. This is not for me, of course. Adrenaline decreases a smidge and they start focusing on the bonding task at hand. Then, moms are told to tell Dad "three nice things." It doesn't matter what it is, it just has to be three nice things. "Three?" I often hear. "Yes, three." When moms are finished, I tell dad to think about it. Why are they saying this? What does this mean to you? Just be silent and think about it, then tell mom "three nice things."
Inevitably, we get at least one sarcastic or joking remark and I remind them that "yes, this is OK. It is perfectly OK to laugh. Laughing also builds oxytocin."
We discuss how this influences pregnancy, birth and parenting. We discuss how this can influence natural and spontaneous labor. We discuss how this can influence reduced pain in labor. So many ways to implement this in our lives. Now, go home and do this at least once a day. Every day. For the rest of the pregnancy... and beyond.
Can you imagine what this can do for a couple? A couple that may never take the time to consciously say so many nice things to the person they love and want to cherish for the rest of their life? Implement this, expand on it your own way, and tell us how this helped you!