Visualisation in labour

By Suzanne Swan

“To pay attention to the here and now, we need intention, not force”

The mind has a natural mechanism for supporting sustained, vigilant and engaged attention. This is the type of attention you need during labour to sustain complete trust in your body. With practice you will be able to choose to experience uterine contractions as feelings of pressure, or as muscles working efficiently or interesting sensations bringing your baby closer to you.

One way of tapping into this ability to create sustained and seemingly effortless attention is to intentionally focus and refocus your attention on a single object. There are many different objects of attention that you can practice to steady the mind. Some of these you have already learnt in the yogababy active birth yoga course.

1. Slow breathing – counting inhale 4 – exhale 6

2. Gazing at a gently flickering candle flame

3. Visualising a flower opening in slow motion

4. Sounds such as ‘om’ repeated silently or aloud

Research has revealed that intentionally focusing on just one object can steady the mind by activating the brain networks corresponding to the chosen focus of attention and, at the same time, inhibiting the brain networks corresponding to competing demands for attention, without need to force.

To take advantage of the minds ability to settle we do actually need to make an effort – but it is a certain kind of gentle effort. We direct our attention onto our chosen object and then refocus the spotlight on the object over and over again, whenever we notice it has drifted away. When we intentionally let go of our urge to force things to be a particular way, the mind naturally settles all by itself, leaving us both calmer and clearer. This is a wonderful inner resource to cultivate for use during labour.

Opening flower visualisation – have your partner read this to you as you relax

Imagine a flower… a flower special to you….one you love to admire…see the flower as a tightly closed bud…hold the image still…see the colour of the petals and how they are wrapped around each other...very gradually, like a slow-motion film, see the bud beginning to loosen, the petals are separating slightly…in a kind of time lapse sequence...visualise the flower starting to open…the petals curling back…the sun shining…and the warmth is in the air…the atmosphere is just right to encourage the flower to open and expose its centre to the sun’s rays….the petals are opening wide now, stretching back, revealing the centre to the energy of the sun’s rays….completely natural and effortless…just part of the natural rhythm and flow of nature…just like your body has that same wondrous ability to open and birth your baby.

Read my Blog on

"How to create a your ideal birthing space within a hospital labour room"

to understand how important the visual cues are in supporting a positive birthing environment.  Especially low lighting to avoid stimulating the pituitary gland into thinking its day time.  We are day mammals therefore we give birth predominantly at night when our cortisol levels are the lowest.  So keep your birthing space semi-dark.