As the time draws near for you to have your baby, you are probably feeling a mixture of excitement and uncertainty. Maybe you are even feeling a little scared.
If this is your first baby, you will no doubt be wondering if you can deal with the pain of labour itself and this may be distracting you from looking forward to your new role as a mum to that gorgeous little bundle of joy that will soon come into the world.
Although today most of us deliver our babies in a hospital with very attentive staff looking after our needs and those of our unborn baby, it is important that we as women remember our bodies are designed to nurture a new life into existence and childbirth is as natural to the female body as breathing is.
From before conception and until we stop breastfeeding, our bodies, left to their own devices, need very little outside help to do what it was designed to do. The pain of childbirth is the journey of the baby into life. Understanding that journey and visualising it, can really help to make the journey easier and the pain more bearable and I know that, because I was able to deliver both my babies without pain relief and by using visualisation.
The key to learning visualisation is to have a thorough understanding of what is happening at each stage of labour. When the midwife says you are 3 cm dilated, understanding what this means and what it looks like, will help you make sense of the pain, when you are experiencing a contraction.
In your mind you see the cervix dilated to 3cm and with each contraction you can focus on the dilation and not on the pain. In your mind you will see it stretch a little wider and give validation to the pain and it helps you to feel in control of the pain. It has purpose and you are working with it to take that 3cm to 4cm etc.
Much of the pain we feel when we are in labour is fear of the unknown. Stress increases pain and reducing stress can help reduce pain. We all forget the things we have learned during the stress of labour, and even though I was a midwife before I had children, it was a completely different feeling being the one having the baby, rather than the one helping a mum deliver her baby.
I can remember feeling  the full feeling that accompanies the imminent delivery of the baby’s head and like so many mother’s before me, though I knew this feeling of pressure was not a need to go to the toilet, but the approach of the baby’s head, in that moment I lost control
It helped me so much to have my husband there reminding me that this was normal and to control my breathing, just as we had been shown in our antenatal classes. Use your support person and don’t be afraid to bring a doula or other non-related support person into the labour room with you, to offer you both empathy and reminders during the labour. Your support person will not only help you to focus on your breathing and on what is happening in your body, but can also be your advocate in ensuring your birth plan is adhered to as much as possible.
Use a mirror to watch your baby emerge from your body. This is an amazing moment… the end of 9 months of a very special bonding that you and your baby have shared to the exclusion of all others. As he or she emerges, the attention of everyone is on the delivery and if you can’t also see it, you miss something very special.
That first sight of the baby’s head crowning and then emerging is magical and even if the thought of it makes you feel squeamish, don’t underestimate how much you have already dealt with and how watching your baby being born will provide you with arguably the most amazing and beautiful experience, you as a woman will ever experience. This is the moment womanhood was created for!
This article was written by Carol Groves:  Carol trained and worked as a nurse and midwife in Australia and overseas, many years ago before having children. Later I trained and worked as a breastfeeding counsellor with Nursing Mothers (now Breastfeeding Australia). Today I am preparing to be a Doula (Childbirth and Peri natal Support Person) and Mother’s Helper. My website is being developed at
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