Using visualisation throughout labour, creating an awareness and placing your minds energy to flow through the body, moving it down and out to various parts. Using our inbuilt resource the mind, as it is connected to the body, the mindbody. Visualisation makes anything possible. The belief that where the mind goes the energy flows. This is exactly how we see the uterus working in labour, placing your awareness on the workings of the uterus, a smooth muscle, the breathe supplying oxygen to the muscle and it contracting . No different to other muscles in our bodies that work to allow us to walk, run or swim. In each of these activities the muscles within our bodies require oxygen. Bit by bit, you can visualise how each flow of breath moves down into the smooth muscle fibres of the uterus, gently each contraction, surging, expanding the cervix, preparing the body to birth.
The three muscle fibres layers of the uterus work in unison like a well oiled engine. Each component moving in, out and up and down. Tightening relaxing, placing pressure to move baby down through the birth canal and out into the world. The first layer of muscle fibres, the longitudinal outer layer, extends from the cervix over the top and down the posterior wall of the uterus. These muscles are responsible for pulling up and and opening the cervix and the fetal ejection reflex at the end of stage two, when baby is being born. The middle layer plays a vital role in supplying oxygen, blood and nourishment to the baby. These muscle fibres run in all directions, I like to think of them as figure eights, constantly flowing in a circuit. They aid with dilation of the cervix , and opening the neck of the uterus. The third layer of muscle fibres are positioned at the base of the uterus, and can be seen as circular and sling like. These must relax to allow for the cervix to dilate.
When you combine visualization with acupressure, the energy circulation moving through the meridians, circulating around the body. Awareness, going within, moving deeper, the body releasing. Time can quicken up, both baby and mother are working as one, with the birthing partner playing a very special part in the birth, by connecting with touch, using words to prompt the birthing mother to visualise what is happening for her and her baby. Using the acupressure points on the hands or the shoulders. Placing pressure on the shoulders and letting a birthing mother know this point descends Qi or energy, baby can descend as the body opens. They say to visualise the cervix like a flower opening at the start of the day, as the sun begins to shine, the flower reacts to the warmth and slowly the petals open, ready to bloom. The opening of the cervix can be reflected as though it is a flower, little by little, opening. Having trust and patience with the birthing process is important.
We have our inner wisdom that leads, giving a greater sense of mindful awareness, an inner knowledge, instinct that connects both mother and baby. Being mindful is a stillness and an insight into our body, our life and our future. We see this in labour as going inward, observing the changes within the body. It is the slowing and settling of the mind which increases sensitivity to signals from our body that it is opening, the uterus, the cervix is preparing the body to birth. And visualisation plays an important part of connecting with what is happening to the body. Each step, visualising how the uterus is working, each muscle fibre doing the job of moving baby down and out. Removing any fear, visualising a place that makes you feel happy and relaxed. The importance of relaxing into labour, flow dont force!
Posture and positioning, as the body expands with the growth of baby. By standing and observing, whether it be you pregnant, your partner or that of a casual bystander, you can see the language of the body as it prepares itself for the final job at hand, to birth this new life. Our bodies are equipped to respond to a range of variations with external and internal environments. We adjust our bodies in accordance with the temperature, lighting and noise of our surrounds. Therefore, it is important to provide an environment that is right for a birthing mother. I quite often say to the people I teach, this birth cannot be repeated, this is a one off. Please ensure, you have in place all you need to make the environment in which you welcome your baby in just right for you.
When adjusting internally, think of this as skin pressure, touch, connecting and taking in sights, and smell. Change the external environment when there is too little or too much, less heat, dim the lights, place music on, eliminate the external noise and so on. The body adjusts, little effort is required. If there is something within the environment causing stress, remove the stress or change how you perceive the stress. Use your visualisation to take you to that special place and breath the stress out, one breath at a time. Using the breath and visualisation can change the response to the situation, you can change the way your body responds. You can continue with the job at hand or it can stop, awaiting the environment to change. You can choose to ignore, go deeper within, block out the thing that is causing stress or tension by visualising how you want it to be.
Some talk about pain in labour and birth, this is a good pain. For others, they see birth as a process, not a pain, the body moving through, working with the muscle fibres. Breathing oxygen into the muscle fibres, allowing them to contract, visualising how they each play a special part. Everyone’s perception is different, each body is different and the thoughts, images we carry with us during this time, makes each birth different, whether it be first or tenth baby, no two are the same. Some describe labour as a time of growth and development, it provides information about the body and the baby. It has a range of sensations, that help the body move through labour and birth, they are, both physical and emotional changes.
The experience of the intensity or pain that is felt, is the way the body responds to the job it is carrying out, birthing a baby! You can see this as information in so many ways. Going through life up until this point getting rid of pain, any pressure felt within the body, taking control. We medicate, to numb the sensations felt, to move to a different place within our mind. This new sensation that is felt in labour, is a natural bodily function required, the opening of the cervix and the tunnelling of baby down the birth canal, all in anticipation of meeting one another. Using your mind to visualise the function, how the body is opening, expanding and allowing baby to move insync with you.
In Chinese medicine, we see pain as a blockage of Qi, it’s a lack of function. The stresses, the tensions, the body holds within. We want to move this blockage, if we see it like a road, there is a speed hump or roundabout, we must slow to go over or to go around. Changing and going straight, removing the obstacle that is causing the blockage, the energy can flow without slowing. This is done by applying pressure to an acupressure point, directing the energy to where the pressure is felt and along the channel within the body. By breathing gently, in and out the nose, visualising what is happening, we are relaxing our body, sending a message to where this tension or stress is felt, together the block can be removed. This creates a natural rhythm within the body. Bringing back the focus, calm and centred approach, changing how the body is feeling. Holding the acupressure point required within this time, feel how the body responds by releasing, allowing your finger to dip deeper, and wait for a change in the mother’s, facial expression or response. Bringing awareness through visualisation and breath, to each contraction or surge and releasing, knowing that each contraction brings you closer to the birth of your baby, and that your body is moving beautifully forward.