Labour and birthing tools
Visualisation is a powerful tool that can allow you to feel more in control of situations. The more you practice, the better you will get at it.
It's based on the simple idea that imagining ourselves achieving a certain outcome helps us to attain it. It's a common practice in most competitive sports, with athletes being told to visualise their behaviour in advance in order to improve their performance. It can also be used to avoid negative behaviours; you can prepare yourself for certain situations by visualising yourself reacting to them in advance.
For a simple example of how visualisation can expand your abilities, stand up straight and try to reach your right arm as far behind you as you can, while keeping your hips straight. See where your arm ends up.
Now, with your eyes closed, visualise your arm going so far behind you that it ends up pointing over to the other side of your body. Try reaching your arm behind you again and see how much further you can reach.
In terms of birth and labour, an effective way to use visualisation is by addressing specific concerns you have. That might be fear of a long labour, fear for your baby's health, or the fear of pain. Visualise things going smoothly, your labour being a specific length, your baby getting to correct position and smoothly making its way out, or perhaps visualise yourself being strong and calm through any pain.
Visualisation works better when we're relaxed, so pick a time when you can get into the zone and not be rushed. You might even like to play some relaxing music.
For an example of a more general visualisation technique for labour, visit this link.
Whether you realise it or not, every day you practise affirmations, which are basically statements on your values or beliefs.
You may not be aware of how you talk about the process of labour to others, but if you’re constantly speaking in anxious or negative terms – e.g. “Nobody in my family has ever had an easy labour” — you’re actively affecting the outcome for yourself, for better or worse.
Creating some positive affirmations about your labour – similar to your visualisation, centred around any concerns or struggles you anticipate – can be an effective way to actively steer the outcome of your pregnancy. Again, athletes do it all the time. Why not create something simple and positive you can say either silently or out loud, when you feel yourself getting anxious?
For example, if you fear the pain aspect of child birth, you could repeat a statement such as “I am strong, focussed and powerful and I can deal with anything.” Or, if you fear labour complications, “My body has an inner wisdom better than anything I can control.”
Rather than blanket positive thinking – which has its detractors – affirmations are simply a way for you to take the steering wheel on your thoughts, and therefore have a huge effect on the way you feel and the experiences you have.
This is a great technique to calm yourself and clear the 'clutter' out of your mind. It's referred to as getting into the 'alpha' state while you're still awake, and is the best state to be in when you are doing your visualisations and affirmations. If you've ever had a massage then you could probably most liken it to how you feel after that.
Meditation helps to relieve anxiety, improve sleep disorders and balance emotions - and as we all know, pregnancy wreaks havoc on your emotions, so it's probably the kindest thing you can do.
You can keep your meditation as simple or go as deep as you like. If you’ve never meditated before, simply going to a quiet place (your bed, a comfortable chair, a warm spot in the garden) and focussing on your breathing is enough.
Adding visualisations and affirmations will only heighten the positive effects, but take it easy on yourself, and if you’ve never meditated before, start off slowly. It can help to visit a kinesiologist, a counsellor or a reiki therapist for some in-person guidance on how to get started.
This article was originally written by Louisa Deasey for Kidspot Australia, and has been adapted for Kidspot NZ.