Giving birth should be a straightforward, wonderful and magical experience.
By using the mind-body connection it is possible to achieve this.
The dictionary definition of the ‘mind-body connection’ is the taking into account the physiological, psychic and spiritual connections between the state of the body and that of the mind.
The idea that our minds and emotions play a critical role in our health is far from new. Many ancient healing systems emphasize the interconnection between mind and body in healing, including Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, who taught that good health depends on a balance of mind, body, and environment. This is also true for a good birth.
We all have an innate power in our unconscious minds to change the way we think. By choosing to think differently then we actually change our brain chemistry so we release serotonins, the happy hormone, as I call it, as opposed to adrenalin. Serotonins make us feel good and help the body to heal and deal with pain. When one feels fear adrenalin is produced in large quantities and the more fear one feels then the more adrenalin is produced. Deepak Chopra states, “To think is to practise brain chemistry”. So thinking relaxing thoughts changes your brain chemistry and creates a good mind-body connection.
The late Dr Grantley Dick-Read (1890 – 1959) visited a woman giving birth at her home in Whitechapel in London. She declined his offer of chloroform, and gave birth without undue problem. After the delivery, he asked her why she did not want chloroform and she replied, “It didn’t hurt. It wasn’t meant to, was it?” Dr Dick-Reid actually said then that relaxation is the key to a good birth and in his book, Childbirth without Fear publishedin 1942; he returned to women their rightful gift of a truly natural birth.
There are several ways in which we can connect to our unconscious minds to change our thinking, thereby keeping us relaxed and so help the release of serotonins in order to have a good birth experience.
A very easy way to counteract the adrenalin production is to concentrate on your breathing as this automatically reduces its flow. This in turn causes the release of serotonins. There are two simple breathing techniques, which can be used -
Breathing technique one: -
Breathe in to a count of 4.
Breathe out to a count of 6.
Repeat this as many times as required, and at least fifteen times.
This sends a signal to the unconscious mind to reduce the adrenalin flow. In this way you are always in control in any situation and especially during the birth of your baby.
Breathing technique two: -
The programme for three deeper breaths
Breath 1 brings instant mental calmness.
As you breathe out SAY to yourself “I am calm”.
Breath 2 brings instant feelings of physical relaxation.
As you breathe out SAY to yourself “I am relaxed”.
Breath 3 brings instant feelings of confidence.
As you breathe out SAY to yourself “I am confident”
“I can do ………..”.
This technique can be used whenever you want instant feelings of calmness, relaxation and confidence. Using the breath reduces the adrenalin flow so creating the calmness and relaxation. I find it easier to say a few words after each breath as it keeps me focussed on what I am doing. The suggestions for the phrases are as above.
This breathing programme can be used in any situation where more calmness, relaxation and confidence are required so it is not just for being pregnant or for the birth of the baby. It can be used at work, rest or play!
At breath three your are using positive affirmations. An affirmation is anything you say or think and this affects your unconscious mind. Your thinking in fact, determines all things. Think negatively and you attract negative realities. Think positively and the benefits you desire in life will come true. When we say something over and over again, we create neural connections in the brain. The more we say it, the more connections we create and the stronger they become, bringing about the reality we desire. There are 3 things to remember about affirmations, 1. Repetition, 2. Repetition, 3. Repetition. The mind not only affects the brain it also affects our body at a cellular level by causing the production of different chemicals. This is so important in healing and pain control and to have a great birth.
State the affirmation in the present tense, as if it is happening now, and state what you want to happen. For pregnancy and birth the list of affirmations is endless:
“I enjoy my pregnancy”
“My digestive system works efficiently and effectively”
“My digestive system is more and more comfortable” (to overcome early morning sickness)
“I look forward to the birth with excitement”
“I have a wonderfully natural childbirth”
“I heal up easily after the birth”
“I breastfeed easily”
“I enjoy being a mum”
“I am a great mum”
“I trust my instincts and intuition”
Use your imagination and you can make up as many affirmations as you wish.
Emile Coué (1857-1926) put forward the 'Law of Concentrated Attention’, which states, “Whenever attention is concentrated on an idea over and over again, it spontaneously tends to realise it.”
Therefore keep on saying your affirmations and they will spontaneously happen for you. The more you say the affirmations, and with feeling, the faster the changes. Build them into your daily routine perhaps repeating them ten times morning and evening.
Use the programme for the three deeper breaths whenever you can to reinforce how you want to feel, and be, during your pregnancy and during the birth.
This programme, along with positive affirmations, can also be used to help you deal with a work situation effectively, or to improve your sport performance and to improve relationships with family, friends and work colleagues. Its uses are infinite!
Positive affirmations also link up with “The Law of Attraction” which states that what you put into the universe is reflected back to you. So radiate positivity and calmness and that is what you get back, especially during pregnancy and childbirth.
Another way to link into our unconscious minds in order to modify our thinking is by the use of Guided imagery or visualisation, which utilizes the power of imagination to heal. This has been shown to reduce anxiety and pain in people with a wide range of medical conditions, including asthma, back pain, headache, to help patients better tolerate medical procedures and treatments and of course to create a wonderful birth experience.
Visualisation, or imagery, utilizes the natural language of the unconscious mind to help you connect with the deeper resources, the inner power we all have, to make the changes you desire. When you visualise what you want to have happen then the unconscious mind actualises this. As Bo Bennett aptly states “Visualisation is daydreaming with purpose”. Visualising and positive affirmations are also forms of self-hypnosis, which I teach as part of my Inner Power Hypnobirthing.
If you wish to you can practise a Relaxation Visualisation by downloading my free MP3 here (this is also self-hypnosis)
My relaxation allows you to choose a place where you can truly, deeply relax and unwind. It also allows you to choose a colour of relaxation that is right for you. This relaxation, which is self-hypnosis, is to be practised as often as possible before the baby’s due date, preferably daily. Then when you are having contractions you can take yourself to your special place and really be there. Or use your colour of relaxation flowing over you so you remain in control of your baby’s birth and can work with your body and intuitively know what to do. When you are daydreaming like this then you are able to dissociate from the ‘feelings’ of the contractions.
The reason why visualisation is so effective is because the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what is real and unreal! So when you are imagining being in your favourite place then your unconscious mind really thinks you are there and responds by secreting lots of serotonins (the happy hormone) so you feel good about yourself. When you use this relaxation technique during the birth process then you are producing a natural epidural to cope with the contractions.
As well as being in a special place you can also visualise your perfect birth happening in just the way you want it to. Do this on a daily basis up until the birth.
Visualisation can be used in any situation and not just for the pregnancy and birth. It can be used to ‘see’ you giving the perfect presentation or improving your piano playing or succeeding at performing well at an interview and getting the job you really want.
David R Hamilton states that “Our thoughts and attitudes inspire our actions, and our actions create our world”. In conclusion the mind-body connection is achieved by our thinking, which modifies our brain chemistry. When we have relaxed thoughts we cannot feel fear. So to create the perfect mind-body connection in order to have a wonderfully natural birth as nature intended we simply have to practise special breathing techniques, positive affirmations and use visualisation, all of which are part of self-hypnosis and hypnobirthing.