Doulas and Childbirth

Preparing for Guided Imagery

I truly love being at the ocean's edge. I'm not referring to hot summer afternoons with radios blaring and acres of beach towels. I have a number of pleasant personal memories and associations that draw me to beach shores and cause me to smile. I love a deserted or almost empty beach, when all of my senses are heightened and my mind can be free to remember and relax. Could it be the space, freedom and freshness of the air? Could it be a pre-birth memory of floating within my mother's body? The rhythmic motion of the waves? I find that all of these sensations are positive and soothing, even cathartic at times. . . a pleasurable formula for relaxation. Peaceful relaxation reduces the body's production of adrenaline, the chemical that surges through us when we are fearful, excited or upset. It increases the body's production of endorphins, which contribute to a feeling of pleasure, peace or security. Certainly there are times when we need the effects endorphins create.

Before beginning, be sure the mother is warm enough or cool enough, and that pillows support her in a comfortable desired position. You may accompany with soft, sustained music or sounds of ocean waves. The music should be soft enough that the mother can still hear her own breathing. The suggestions could be spoken in a low, soft tone, with long pauses. The pauses allow the mother to frame the image, relate it to herself, and then to experience the sensations of that image. The amount of touch involved depends entirely on the individual situation. It is possible that the doula may not touch the mother at all, or that her birth partner may be holding her hand or stroking her lightly, in concert with her breathing pattern.

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©Karen N. Kilson