I knew that I needed to have something I could focus on during contractions that would help me relax and let my body work with the contractions, not try to block them out.
I had tried, during my other labors to focus on a picture on the wall, but that didn't seem to help me for more than about the first 2.7 seconds of each contraction, because I was trying to ignore the pain, by focusing on the picture. And if you've ever been through labor you know there's no ignoring that feeling!
That's when I remembered the family vacation we take every year.
Peaceful? Check. Relaxing? Check.
I remembered the hour long horseback rides we would take and how I loved to listen to the sound of the horses' hooves on the gravel, and then through the grass and small streams, and crossing wooden bridges.
I decided that for each 60 second contraction, I could envision myself on horseback. I would imagine the sound of hooves going over gravel. Clip, clop, clip, clop, for 15 seconds, 15 steps. Then 15 seconds, 15 steps through tall grass. Swish, swoosh, swish, swoosh. Next would come water. Splish, splash, splish, splash, 15 seconds, 15 steps. Lastly, I would imagine going over a wooden bridge, clip, clop, clip, clop and after 15 steps, seeing my family on the front porch of our cabin waiting for me and cheering me on.
These things were very easy for me to imagine because I had done them many times. During my pregnancy, I practiced going through the 15 steps, 4 times each every night as I lay in my bed waiting for sleep to come. I wanted to make sure I had the timing just right, so the whole "journey" would last for the entire minute long contraction.
When I went into labor with my 7th baby, I was ready to use the technique I had been practicing for months. I need it to be very quiet so I could concentrate on the steps in my journey, so my husband had to "shush" some nurses a time or two, but it really did work for me!
I had told my husband ahead of time that I was determined NOT to say, "I CAN NOT DO THIS!" like I had done the other times because I knew I could do it, that my body was designed to do it.
Finally, I was able to go through my entire labor and delivery staying calm and relaxed the whole time! What an exhilarating feeling! I had done it!
(Read the birth story here.)
Here are a few other techniques I put into practice, along with the visualization I described above.
- Keep hands open and relaxed. Don't clench fists.
- Keep jaw and mouth loose and relaxed. No clenching!
- Request a quiet environment. Sick your husband on the nurses if necessary.
- Closing your eyes may help with the visualization.