Most of the images we see about birth and not very encouraging, are they? And if those images are the only frame of reference you have, you are probably going to be a little bit nervous about your birth. To say the least!
But there is an alternative. Creating a clear vision for your birth, through affirmations, positive thinking and visualisations, can help to overcome the fears that have been generated purely from the dramatic and negative images we have been exposed to.
Imagine for a moment if the only birth images or stories we ever saw or heard were positive, inspiring, beautiful. Imagine if the only thing you knew about birth was that it was empowering, that you could remain calm and in control. That there was nothing to be fearful about.
What we tell ourselves is important. It can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you tell yourself “I am SO scared of giving birth”, over and over, then when it comes to the big day, you have primed yourself to be terrified. And when FEAR becomes the dominant emotion during labour, you are going to hit a few bumps.
FEAR = ADRENALINE
ADRENALINE = SUPPRESSION OF OXYTOCIN
NO OXYTOCIN = NO CONTRACTIONS
So how can you turn this around?
You start to build up a visual image of the birth you want. Take some time out regularly to go into a state of deep relaxation, and then start to imagine, step by step, how you will think, feel and be during your labour. What will you do, how will you move, how will you breathe. How will you deal with any issues that arise? If this becomes a regular practice, you will slowly start to feel more positive, more powerful, more capable.
For many decades, Elite Athletes have used a technique call the ‘Mental Reheursal’: a simple visualisation technique where they imagine, in vivid detail, going moment by moment through their ideal result.
We can apply these techniques to any aspect of our lives, and particularly our births.
Maggie Howell (Clinical Hypnotherapist and Natal Hypnotherapy Expert) explains how it works.
“Using visualisation or guided imagery for labour is like running a dress rehearsal in your mind. You experience your perfect birth over and over again in your mind.
Once the actual birth begins, because the brain doesn’t know the difference between what’s imagined and what’s real, your body is familiar and comfortable with the rehearsed responses.”
Using visualisation techniques also improves our relaxation response – spending a few minutes getting quiet and deepening our awareness lowers our breathing rate, lowers our heart rate and calms down our mind. Which are all qualities we need in birth.
If you have booked onto a HypnoBirth course, or have some CDs to listen to, you are sorted. If you go to a Pregnancy Yoga Class, you are also sorted – most tutors will talk you through a guided Relaxation with visualisations and affirmations at the end.
If you haven’t done any visualising before and would like some help with this, then please listen to the short recording below, and start to practice –
Creating a Vision for your Ideal Birth
What would your vision look like? Drop some thoughts into the comments below……