Visualizing and imagining the birth you want comes surprisingly close to practicing for it. Olympic champions use this technique to prepare – you can too.
When you spend time visualizing childbirth, you're actually preparing your mind and body to handle the experience. This helped me prepare for Galen's birth (my fourth baby). It was a very important preparation and his birth came incredibly close to what I'd “practiced” every night before I fell asleep!
I chose to visualize the experience I most wanted to have in a lot of detail. I tried to do all of my imagining from a first-person perspective – you should too. You're going to be in your body, birthing your baby, not just observing from the outside. You're not watching a movie during childbirth!
I also visualized several other scenarios I thought could possibly happen, just to feel more comfortable if they actually arose (for instance, we planned a water birth but I pictured birthing in our bedroom as well). And I did some work with my own fears and as part of overcoming that fear I visualized and analyzed the “what if” situation. You can do this too.
I imagined quite a few different ways of giving birth to my baby. But the one I wanted most of all I spent the most time picturing (I tried to make time every day, often as I was falling asleep at night) and pictured in the most detail. It's important to let go of feeling foolish, or too optimistic – just imagine your very “best case” birth, your “ideal” birth so to speak. You can explore other situations, as I did, but spend time picturing how you really want it to go.
This is a really powerful way to help your mind get ready for the birth. It can become almost like a rehearsal for the birth, leaving you with the feeling that you've been through this before 🙂
Our minds are a powerful thing. Galen's birth is one of the proofs of that. When I visualized Galen's birth, I always pictured the birth tub, myself, and Scott. I pictured Galen coming into the world and being brought from the water in my hands and in Scott's hands.
Now, in the back of my mind I always thought “the midwives are there somewhere, in the background” and also I generally thought the children would be there somewhere in the background too. But I found myself unable to picture them actually right there, by the tub – I wanted Galen's first moments to be for me and Scott, so I didn't picture anyone else right there.
If you've read Galen's birth story, you know that we ended up with an unassisted birth – in fact, my labor picked up almost as soon as our midwives left (because I was only 3cm). As I reflect back over this I keep thinking about all the visualizing I did and how I always pictured just Scott and I there, and the midwives were just “somewhere” and never actually in the scene in my mind. Almost everything was as I'd pictured it over and over again – the tub in the corner, the low light, the position I birthed in. The only difference was that I always imagined Scott in the tub, and he didn't have time to get in with me before Galen was born. He was supporting me and holding my hands from the outside of the tub.
What you picture in your mind – condition your mind to expect, so to speak – can have a powerful influence on your birth. Olympic athletes do the exact same thing. They picture themselves achieving victory, over and over. Picturing it in detail. Then they go on to achieve that victory!
It's important to work through and let go of fears, so you can allow yourself to visualize the experience you'd like without fears creeping in. That visualization helps you explore possibilities and prepare for your birth in the closest way to actually being able to “practice” birth that you can. Enjoy!
Photo by Inspired Photography