As Maggie Howell states in her book Effective Birth Preparation, ‘the mind is an incredibly powerful tool, through which you can use imagery and visualisation to help reduce stress and pain, as well as increase health and well-being’. You do not have to be able to ‘see pictures ‘in your mind – it is about the process – you can simply focus on the sounds – it is about feeling the experience of being there. In the classes you will have the opportunity to practise a ‘special place’ visualisation with me as well as experiencing the visualisation from Maggie Howell’s excellent Pregnancy Relaxation Cd. Conscious relaxation is a technique which is enhanced by visualisation. Like any technique the more you practise the better you get and the more effective the technique will be in helping you to relax.
Once you reach about 32 weeks you will be ready to practise with Maggie Howell’s Effective Birth Preparation Cd specially designed to help you prepare for giving birth either in a hospital or birth centre environment – or at home. You might also like to practise the visualisation below which comes from Wendy Teasdill’s book, Yoga for Pregnancy. In it she says, ‘Pain in labour has less to do with the pain threshold than fear of the unknown. Modern ‘civilization’ has separated us from the metaphysical nature of birth; information often comes from health care professionals rather than from our mothers or from witnessing others giving birth……A simple and effective way of implementing change on a deep level is to access the subconscious through visualisation….Even if the birth is not as straightforward as you visualise it to be….it will boost your self reliance before and during the birth’. You could make a recording of the story to listen to pausing at the asterisks.
Maggie Howell’s Cds and her book are available from me for £11.50 and £8.50 respectively
Birth Visualisation – Wendy Teasdill
Lie down as for relaxation where you will not be disturbed. Breathe easily and softly.*
As you breathe in, visualise a galaxy of tiny stars entering your lungs. * Watch them sparkling and shining as they quietly spread throughout your body.* Feel their light flooding right down to the tips of your toes.* Feel the stars dancing up through your shoulders and down your arms to the tips of your fingers.* The milky way of stars flows up through your throat and into your head.* Allow the light to gently sweep away every thought from your head.* As you breathe out exhale any thoughts.* You feel very relaxed and nothing is more important than this moment of complete release.**
Now take your mind down to your baby and put yourself in his or her place – fastened securely to you by the umbilical cord, your baby floats in the warm amniotic sea of the womb world. Tumbling about like a baby dolphin in the earlier months, stretching and snuggling in the later ones she or he is completely aquatic. Your baby drinks and excretes the water and the water cushions every movement. She or he can feel your heart beat and sense your moods – for now you are wrapped in the same aura but one day it will be time for your baby to move on.*
At the bottom of your womb where you know your cervix to be, envisage the closed bud of a lily flower floating on the still surface of a still pond. It is sunrise on a clear morning, your baby has decided that it is too cramped in the womb and has signalled to your body that it is time to open up. As the sun rises, watch the deep pink lily petals gradually unfolding, one by one in its warmth. Each contraction comes to you as gently as the unfolding of the lily petals. Watch them carefully, concentrate on their individual beauty, on the way the sun illuminates them. They have their own rhythm and are aligned with the deep pulse of nature: watch them, trust them, go with them. * By the time the sun has risen, all the petals will be open, and your baby is ready to descend through the birth canal to meet you.
Feel the gentle pressure from your baby’s head. It seems a tight fit, but the baby is able by deep- rooted instinct, to get it just right. Visualise the joints of your pelvis expanding, feel your whole pelvic floor relaxing and giving; observe the muscles and ligaments folding back as your baby makes her way steadily through. Listen to your body’s desire to push and go with it, breathing deeply and easily into the descent when the desire comes – and holding off when you need to gather strength for the next contraction. Go with your baby, sending him or her courage, light and love.
Soon – not too fast and not too slowly but in his or her own time- your baby is born, healthy, happy and unique. Rejoice in the miracle of new life as you bring your baby to your breast and you make eye contact for the very first time. * A new day begins*
Now bring your mind back to the present with your baby still tucked up snug and safe in your womb. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly, at length.* Continue to breathe more deeply as you bring your awareness back to the here and now.* Come back to sitting slowly and carefully.
The use of visualisation during labour and ‘elephant power’
In early labour, during rest periods you could use your special place visualisation to help you relax and to stay focussed in your birthing bubble – rather than be distracted by your surroundings.
If you start to feel vulnerable and fearful whilst in labour it can be useful to summon up the image of a powerful animal to identify with. In the class you imagine you are as powerful as a mother elephant and remembering this you can call on your ‘elephant power’ to help restore your sense of empowerment. You may even feel the need to swing your trunk!
A very simple and effective way of dealing with fears and anxieties is to use affirmations. Niggling fears and anxieties are often deep seated in the subconscious and by repeating a short positive statement to yourself 10 times before sleep, carefully worded to address your fear, you can often help yourself feel less anxious. You are replacing the negative thought with a positive one and the repetition helps to conquer the fear – a simple but extremely powerful technique. You can use affirmations during pregnancy to address common fears about your baby’s well-being or your ability to cope and then in the later weeks to help you prepare for giving birth. Below are some suggestions.
I know my body is strong enough and perfectly designed to give birth
I have enough love to go around
All is well
I’ll know what to do when the time comes
Every emotion I feel is OK
My baby will be born at the right time and I will be ready
I will focus on my deep slow breathing
I feel strong safe and powerful
During childbirth I can express myself in any way I want
My body knows how to give birth and I will let it
I am strong, my baby is strong we can do this together
I will go with the process and not fight it
Childbirth is a normal, natural and healthy event
I look forward to the indescribable, ecstatic moment of birth