Guided Imagery to Prepare for Childbirth
Childbirth is a memorable and sweet moment.
All the months of preparing and waiting are over, and your new baby is in your arms! But before you hold your child close, you have to endure labor, and for most mommas, this is a long and hard process. My first labor lasted over 20 hours. Luckily my second labor was only 7.5 hours. Hopefully our third child comes even quicker!
Whether short or long, laboring to bring your child into the world can cause anxiety and apprehension. The guided imagery script below is meant to help prepare a mom-to-be feel ready for labor. The script allows you to imagine going through the stages of labor and offers helpful ways to imagine enduring the contractions.
My counseling supervisor has guided me through this relaxation exercise at the end of each pregnancy, and I always found it comforting and helpful. I hope you find it helpful as well as you prepare (or wait) for labor to begin!
Guided Imagery for Childbirth
(adapted from a script by Marianne Metzner, MS, MA, LPC-S)
Begin the guided exercise with some relaxation breathing. Breathe in, and breathe out, allowing each breath to draw you deeper and deeper into a state of relaxation. As you exhale, let go of unnecessary tensions and concerns, letting them flow out of your body with the expelled breathes. Breathe in peace and confidence in yourself. As you allow yourself to find that peaceful and relaxing confidence, become increasingly in tune with your body.
Now, allow your mind to ponder on that date in the future when your baby will be ready to be born. You will sense contractions: first, these will be light contractions which are spaced far apart. They can be a signal to feel joyful, excited, and relieved that the time has finally come for labor. This is also a time to remember your peaceful and relaxing confidence in your ability to welcome a new child into the world.
As you grew throughout life, your body knew how to crawl and walk and eventually jump and skip. Just as your body knew what to do at those appropriate times, your body knows how to prepare for childbirth. Childbirth can be a most satisfying and pleasurable experience as you allow yourself to trust your body. Remember that this time is linked to the love you have for your child and the love you and the father shared months ago. As you remember those loving moments, it will be a comfort to you.
As labor begins, the long abdominal muscles contract to stretch open the birth canal. Remember that your body knows what to do, so allow your body to lead. Let your mind observe and enjoy the experience of childbirth. Connect each organ and muscle together, and see the beauty in how your body prepares for childbirth. These muscles and contractions are similar to a switchboard. When all the muscles are ready to contract, it is as if a light turns on and the contraction begins. When the light goes off, the contraction ends. Imagine that you have the ability to turn the switch on and off, thereby allowing you to contract and “massage” the baby downwards and also to release the pressure.
Contractions are one minute long, so in one hour there will be 12 minutes of work and 48 minutes to relax.
As you imagine yourself going to the delivery room in the future, recognize that you will be surrounded with people who are capable and trustworthy. Feel safe in their presence and trust their directions. Allow yourself to feel relaxed around these supportive, helpful people who are also excited to be part of your child’s birth story.
Next, imagine entering the second stage of labor where you’ll prepare yourself for stronger contractions. These contractions are more powerful and closer together. Trust your body, and allow yourself to breathe and flow with the pressure of moving your baby downwards. Anxious feelings can be welcomed, instead of feared, by recognizing their function. Anxiety can be overcome by focus and excitement, even though this stage of labor will become more painful. As you imagine contractions coming more frequently and powerfully, imagine they are like ocean waves. Ocean waves ebb and flow, hitting against the shore with forceful pressure. But waves also retract and flow away, just as these powerful contractions will flow away when their time is over. Let this ebb and flow of contractions allow you to focus and relax at the necessary times. Between contractions, allow yourself to feel rested, regenerated, and refreshed – ready for the next wave.
At the end of your labor process, you will experience the most dominant contractions that will push your baby out into the world. Allow these final contractions to massage your baby through the birth canal, which has been prepared and stretched for this task through all your previous effort and work. Imagine the moment your child enters the outside world, and allow yourself to relish in this joyful, satisfying, and private moment. It is a joy to bring a baby into the world. Imagine the sounds you’ll hear and the softness you’ll feel as you hold your new child close. All your work has brought you to this satisfying place.
As you close the guided imagery exercise, focus on the confidence and joy you feel right now. Pause and reflect how your body feels at this moment, and make a plan for how you can return to this place of comfort and confidence in the future. Allow your breaths to continue to inspire and strengthen you, and when you feel ready, end the guided imagery exercise.