If this question makes you laugh or scoff in disbelief, then think again, because how you prepare mentally for labor has a huge impact on your physical experience of birth.
Lindsey Jackson

Your perception is reality
Just imagine for a moment that you could deal with each contraction in such a way as to feel increasing excitement.

Or perhaps feel the pressure of the baby's head as a triumphant miracle arriving. For your body to be telling you "I'm ready, I'm in charge, and this is what I was meant to do . I'm built for this."

As you consider this possibility now, you are already altering your perception of the birth. Perhaps you can liberate yourself from the expectation of pain, hurt and drama regarding childbirth? Perhaps you can listen to the information about how it might be, what physical things will go on for you and decide for yourself how you are going to perceive them. You see, you have a choice. Your perception of things IS your reality. So you can choose to perceive your experience however you want to.

Of course we do need to be realistic about the many complications and variations for each woman's individual experience, so please take this article with the positive spirit with which it is meant.

Okay, so I've thrown down the gauntlet. Even though you want to entertain the idea of an enjoyable labor, you're now asking how?

Step 1: Believe you can
The first thing to sort out is your own beliefs about the labor and birth.
  • Do you believe your body can do it well?
  • Do you believe nature will help you?
  • Do you believe you have flexible enough behavior to be able to deal with whatever presents itself?
If you have less-than-helpful beliefs, they will limit you and work against you, preventing you from moving towards the kind of experience you'd really like.

Here are some questions to help you think it through. Write down what you truly think and feel inside.

Things I currently believe about myself and my pregnancy are:

_______________________________________

Things I currently believe about the labor and birth are:

____________________________________

Things I'd like to believe about myself and my pregnancy are:

____________________________________

Things I'd like to believe about the labor and birth are:

____________________________________

Things I want to let go of to make my beliefs a reality are:

____________________________________

Step 2: Talk kindly to yourself
Do you have a voice in your head that chats to you and comments on how you're doing? Is it a kind voice that encourages you and praises you for a job well done? Or is it sometimes critical and undermining?

As you begin to notice what it's saying and the tone it has, you can also train it to treat you fairly. Consider whether the phrases below are similar to ones you use and what they could be changed into to be your own fan club and supporter.

Negative: "I'm terrible at that." Positive: "I did my best and learned how I can do better."

Negative: "I can't..." Positive: "I'll give it a shot."

Negative: "I'll never manage to..." Positive: "I'll find a way to..."

Negative: "It's going to hurt..." Positive: "It's going to be an intense sensation..."

Negative: "I've no idea how I'll cope." Positive: "It's a new experience for me and I'm sure I'll learn from it."

Negative: "I hate change." Positive: "I'll embrace whatever life brings and roll with it."

Add your own internal dialogue examples here and decide how you'd like that voice to speak to you instead. (Think "Things I tend to say to myself" and "Better phrases to use with myself.")

Step 3: Visualize success and it will come
This well-known and highly successful technique is used massively in the world of sports, where physical ability is harnessed by the power of the mind for optimum performance.

Here's how:
Imagine you are the director of your own movie. Up in front of you there is a vast screen, upon which you can create your own film of your labor and birth. Choose the moment you want it to start from (is it the first contraction or the start of the trip to hospital for example?) Now you can see, hear and feel the movie in whatever way is compelling and positive for you.

See yourself on the screen. See what you are wearing, what you look like, see your face and make it a happy one with smiles and excitement. Notice how you are moving and what you are saying, to yourself and others? Who else is there?

Now notice how bright the picture is and what colors there are in the picture. Alter the qualities of these pictures to make them more compelling for you (brighter or dimmer, clearer or hazy?)

Notice the size and location of the picture. Is it panoramic, or does it have borders? Is it near or far? Where is it on your screen?

What sounds can you hear? Is there music? Or laughter. Make these louder or quieter to make it a better movie for you.

Now observe any feelings that are present.

The trick is to have fun playing with the movie until it becomes a fantastic one for you. This will be different for each person, so you can make it however you want to. You are the director!

Replay this to yourself daily as many times as you like. Talk to your partner about it so they know how you see it going and their part in it. There's more chance that they can help bring it into reality if they know what's expected.

Top tip:
Build in one or two extra scenes, like you get on a DVD -- the outtakes, the funny bits that might just happen or the unexpected events. Plan for these mentally so you can visualize yourself coping with them flexibly. See even the least preferred scenarios going well. Imagine the parts of the birth that you think will present the most challenge to you and make the movie really powerful here so you have worked out how you are going to deal with it. Internal dialogue (the way you speak to your self just at this point) will make a huge difference to the moment.

What I will say to myself, just at the moment when I think "I'm not sure I can do this"
is _______________________________________
(write your phrase / statement in here)

While you are re-playing your own movie you need to check inside that it's built on positive beliefs about yourself and your ability as the backdrop to your movie. If you discover any glitches, doubts, feelings of uncertainty. Observe them and ask yourself what you need to do to let go of them.

You can do this! When your labor starts, press the "play" button and let the event unfold just as you saw it.

Why bother?
It seems to me that the way we prepare for labor and birth is to get the room ready, the bag packed, the telephone numbers sorted, maybe even a birthing plan with medical interventions worked out. I'd encourage you to get even more ready than that. This is your opportunity to get the most powerful influencer of your whole experience on your side: your mind. It's never too late to prepare, even if your due date is tomorrow!

Have fun with the three steps, stay flexible in your approach and I wish you a positive birth. Your body is an amazing machine and it will do it, so work with it and go for a golden experience.PregnancyAndBaby.com

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