When using visual imagery for coping with contractions, it is important that the image change or transform in some way to match the changing intensity of the simulated contraction. If you are using the image of a flower opening, say, you should visualize the flower opening larger, or its color deepening, as the contraction peaks. This allows the secondary visual cortex to accommodate the increased sensation of the simulated contraction.
Repeat the simulated contraction exercise this time using an internal image which changes as the contraction peaks. Be sure you are simultaneously breathing through it as well.
None of these techniques will work if you hold your breath. That is why it is often a good idea to incorporate an auditory response of hearing your breath during contractions no matter what other modalities you use or favor.
Try the exercise again. This time, listen to the sound of your breathing, imagine your baby's head coming down as your cervix opens, and hold tight to your partner's hand. This allows you to experience all three coping strategies. Of these, which comes most naturally to you? Which helps most with the pain? Can you use each of them or all three together?
By doing the above exercises just one time thoroughly, you have trained your body to adjust and adapt by using pain to help you through labor. Your body will automatically respond to what worked for you in these hands-on, body-centered exercises.
Relaxation and Release
Remember that release in between contractions is where you are headed as you travel through labor. During a contraction, encourage yourself to meet the peak of the contraction with the active coping strategies that work best for you. By encouraging yourself to follow through the peak of the contraction with whatever coping strategies you have identified in this chapter, you will find yourself adjusting to your own inner tempo. Welcome the deep rest possible in between contractions. It is within these valleys of deep release that you can encourage yourself to completely rest, relax and replenish yourself. Some women even report falling asleep in between contractions.
Copyright 1993 by Shadow and Light Publications. Reprinted with permission from the author and publisher. This excerpt may not be reproduced in any manner, including electronic, without prior written consent from the publisher.
From: Chapter 7 of "An Easier Childbirth"
by Gayle Peterson, PhD
Shadow and Light Publications
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