How to use visualisations to prepare for your birth

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Just as elite athletes use visualisations to train their minds and bodies, so this is also a wonderful technique for childbirth preparation.

Esther Jones is a specialist HypnoBirthing practitioner who has been helping couples prepare for birth since 2007. 

In this post Esther explain about visualisations, why they’re so powerful and how we can use them as we prepare for birth.

So you might have heard about sportspeople using visualisations as part of their training.

Imagining themselves over and over, executing the perfect dive, beating a personal best, scoring the winning goal.

So, how does this work?



Strengthening your neural pathways

According to brain imagery, every time we imagine ourselves doing something, our brain is stimulated in the same way as if we had actually performed the action.

So, the visualisation strengthens our neural pathways, driving new habits and behaviours.

Every time we visualise doing something, we’re priming our body to act in that way.

And, since our bodies respond to the thoughts in our minds, changing how we visualise labour means changing the way our bodies respond to labour.

So, we are training our bodies to relax into labour. 



Set aside 20 minutes or so every day

The best way to work with these visualisations is by bringing them to mind as much as you can.

I suggest always setting aside 20 minutes or so every day.

Use this time to ground into your body, connect with your baby, practice breathing techniques, affirmations, and any other mind/body techniques or practices you’re using.

You can also use this time to consciously bring the visualisations to mind.

From week 35 of your pregnancy, you should aim to spend some more time each day with the visualisations.

Perhaps on a long walk, while you’re having a bath.

Just keep finding those quiet moments where you can really bring these images alive in your mind.


So, how do we want to visualise labour?

Labour is all about the body opening.
Yes, it’s powerful, but it does not have to be harsh or resistant.
So, the images we bring to our minds should reinforce this idea of opening, of non-resistance, of letting go.
I’m going to share a few of my favourite visualisations, but you may want to spend some time coming up with something of your own.

Water visualisation

Water is a really powerful and soothing image in labour.

For example, you can visualise labour as being out in an ocean.

There is nothing you can do to control the waves, but you know that you can flow with each wave, no matter how strong they are.

As the ocean waves get bigger, your confidence grows as you find that you are always able to rise and fall with them.

Surges visualisation

Another visualisation that I used a lot during my births, is that of picturing the muscles of the uterus as soft blue satin ribbons.

The uterus has two sets of muscles that work together during dilation. Every time you have a surge, the vertical muscles contract up, and as they do, they pull the lower circular muscles out and up, opening the cervix.

As you’re in the surge, you can visualise these muscle fibres as blue satin ribbons.

As the vertical ribbons pull upwards, see the circular ribbons easily yield and open, with no resistance.

You can probably think of other images that could help you during dilation. It’s such a personal thing, so spend some time on this and see what comes to your mind.

Second stage of labour visualisation

For the second stage of labour, when your baby is moving down the birth canal and into the world, a really effective visualisation is that of an opening rose.

As you imagine your baby gently moving down the birth canal, see the vaginal opening as a rose and visualise the petals slowly moving apart to let your baby gently out.

Everything soft and yielding.

Feel the love

Keep the oxytocin flowing

And finally, at any point in labour, just imagine yourself cradling your baby in your arms. It’s such a simple image and it helps to soothe the mind and keep the oxytocin flowing.
You can make these visualisations work even better for you by bringing feeling to them.

So, how do you feel during labour?  Powerful, focused, confident, happy, relaxed.

Feel these emotions as you bring the images to mind. 


Watch the video

Esther shares her visualisations with you!

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