Doulas and Childbirth

What is guided imagery?

Guided imagery, helping the mind to create a setting or visualization, has many utilizations. Most of us use it without even realizing. The early stage of labor can be difficult for a birthing mother. She may not be sure that she is experiencing real labor. Or her contractions might be mild and spaced out, but the anticipation of what is ahead may prevent her from getting rest before more difficult labor begins. A doula can verbally guide her mind to an image of her unborn baby, sleeping and floating inside of her, while the mother gently strokes her own abdomen.

Another particularly good time for guided imagery is after a cesarean birth, while the mother is still in the recovery room. In most cases, the baby is not with her and she hasn't seen much of her newborn since the moment of birth. The father may be in the nursery with the baby or greeting family members. The mother has just had major surgery, probably unplanned, and has felt out of control of her birth for an hour or so. She may be feeling anxious, but needs to be in recovery for a while. A doula can guide her thoughts to a safe place, where she is holding her baby in her arms, its soft, warm head under her chin and little fingers enfolding her own finger. Although the theme of the imagery varies with the individual and the situation, it is easy to see that there are many ways to use this technique during pregnancy or birth. With a little thought, you may also find ways to use it in your personal life.

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©Karen N. Kilson