Creating Your Own Guided Visualization for Labor and Childbirth
6 Steps to Create Your Own Meaningful and Relaxing Visualization Routine
Feeling the warm sun on your face as you listen to the seagulls cry, the waves crashing in, then slowly fading away again… the breath of a cool breeze blowing your hair back as you watch leaves fall to the ground, your feet chilly in the clear water of the babbling mountain stream…
We have all had those moments in our lives we wish we could bottle up and save for those times or places that are not so calm, when we might need a little help relaxing. I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last week enjoying fall in the mountains of North Carolina… so many times each day I’ve wished I could imprint on my mind forever the moment, the view, the sounds, the feeling.
As a birth doula, I coach my clients to develop and use visualization strategies in pregnancy, labor, and birth – finding those bottled-up moments and using them to take your mind into a relaxed, easy, beautiful place.
Relaxation during labor and birth has multiple benefits, including the release of oxytocin and endorphins which move labor along and help you to manage the intensity associated with it. Having a visualization strategy that you have identified and practiced during pregnancy equips you with a powerful strategy for labor. Practice beforehand is key - although using visualization for the first time during labor can still be effective, the more familiar the visualization is to you, the easier it will be to “relax into” during the challenging time of labor.
Successful use of visualization strategies allows you to give birth in a state similar to daydreaming, a mental state that allows you to be relaxed and in your own mental space no matter what is occurring around you. This relaxation keeps your body and mind out of the instinctive, adrenaline-fueled fight-or-flight mode that can be induced by stressful or anxious situations and environments.
Although visualization strategies and guided visualization scripts are easy to find on the internet, creating your own is easy and can be a more personal and meaningful approach.
One idea to consider, as you work through the steps I’ve provided below, is to use your phone to record yourself describing the details of your scene in the fourth step. Doing so will give you information to refer back to and to share with your support person or doula, who can then recreate it for you when you need coaching during labor. Coaching you through guided visualization is an incredibly powerful support tool for your partner (read more about partner support here).
Creating your Own Guided Visualization Routine
Find a quiet, comfortable space where you can feel fully relaxed.
Close your eyes and take 2-3 deep, cleansing belly breaths.
Imagine a time and a location where you felt happy, relaxed, and safe.
As you imagine that time and place, fill in the details…
What do you see around you?
What sounds do you hear? Or not hear, if it’s the silence that you find relaxing
How does the air feel around you? Is there a breeze? Is it still, hot, cold, crisp, humid…?
What do you smell? The scent of flowers or animals nearby, food cooking, soap or perfume, a loved one’s cologne or clothing smell…?
Are you alone, or with a person or people you care about?
What are you physically feeling? Are you sitting or lying down? Do you feel warm, cool, snug under a blanket, sand between your toes, water around your body…?
Stay in this place for several minutes, moving within the visualized space and enjoying the emotions it brings you.
When you’re ready to leave your visualized space, do so gently, with 2-3 deep belly breaths and a slow opening of your eyes.
I've included some images below to help you to think about some relaxing, safe spaces and memories you might use to create your own guided visualizations to add to your childbirth strategy toolbox. I'd love to hear about your experiences with the process! Please follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more information and tips about pregnancy, childbirth, and early postpartum (@meanttobebirthservices).
For more information or to schedule time to talk with me about my birth doula services, please click here.