I heard about visualization when I first watched "The Secret" in about 2009. Back then, it seemed like a pretty cool concept, if it worked. But honestly? It for me, it was a bit woo-woo. I've always been a control freak, "git'r'done" type of girl. If I want something, I make it happen. 'Aint nobody got time to sit around and think about how life should go when there were important things to get done (like dishes and laundry and REAL planning).
But then I got pregnant again (baby #2) in 2015. In an effort to have a MUCH better experience this time around, I started reading childbirth books and researching different philosophies and classes. I stumbled upon the Hypnobabies program, which would change my view on childbirth forever.
If you've been following along for a while, you probably already know that my first birth was really difficult and traumatic (both physically and emotionally). I was really young (just 20 when my son was born), and although I was probably more educated and mature than most girls my age at the time, I was still very naive about the birth process and my role in it. I was extremely sick with my first (looking back now it was probably hyperemesis), and consequently had to quit my job and be bound to the couch for days upon days. To pass the time, I would watch those documentary shows on TLC about labor and delivery - you know, the ones where there's always some dramatic reenactment of a baby's chaotic and dangerous entrance into the world. It seemed like every baby born on that show had some sort of heart rate or breathing issues. I've always been fascinated with these types of shows, and figured I was educating myself by watching them during pregnancy.
I went into labor with my first right at 40 weeks. It was a relatively fast labor, especially for a first baby. His heart rate kept dipping extremely low with each contraction, and we narrowly avoided a c-section. Because of the complications, and my strong desire to avoid surgery, once I was fully dilated I wasted no time getting him out (1 contraction and 2 pushes to be exact). I delivered quickly and in an awkward position, which lead to severe tearing (and a 4-day hospital stay with a catheter...eek). When he came out, he was covered in meconium and wasn't breathing.
So yea, when baby #2 came along I DEFINITELY wanted to do better. Back to Hynobabies...
As a part of the course, you're encouraged to visualize your birth story as you want it to happen. The plan is to listen to a hypnosis/meditation everyday, which can be done right before going to bed at night. I thought to myself "here's that visualization thing again that people keep talking about. Do I HAVE to?" Although I'd never really taken it seriously, I figured I was desperate enough to not have a repeat of baby #1 that I was willing to try anything.
So like the good student I am, I plugged in my headphones and listened to the meditations at night. That part was easy - it was passive. But visualizing took work because I actually had to focus on playing out the movie in my head instead of allowing my mind to wander into my to-do list for work the next day, or the dirty socks I tripped over on my way to bed that my husband could NEVER seem to figure out how to put in the hamper. But I digress.
Here's how I planned/visualized my birth. I'm a morning person, so I saw myself in early labor in the wee hours of the morning (like 5am). I would wake up around 6am with steady and strong contractions, and begin laboring in my bathtub at home. I would labor there while my husband got my son ready and off to school. He would come back and call the midwife, then we would head to the hospital. Once at the hospital, I would get back into the tub and my daughter would be born, in the water, early in the afternoon so we'd have plenty of bonding time before my son got out of school.
**Side note - I had to change my visualization slightly in the 3rd trimester due to a change in birth plan. I originally wanted a home birth, but after a potential complication arose, we decided to labor at home for as long as possible, then deliver at the hospital.
Here's how it actually went:
6:15ish am: I got up feeling stronger than normal contractions, and went to relax in the tub (didn't necessarily think it was labor yet, but the contractions were a bit more noticeable than the recent braxton hicks I'd been having).
8ish am: My husband took my son to school, came back and called the midwife (I was certain it was labor by this point, timing contractions on my phone app at around 3-4 minutes apart). When she arrived, we chatted for a bit then headed to the hospital around 11ish am.
I labored in the tub at the hospital after a short fetal monitoring session. I stayed there until my daughter was born - in the water - at 1:05pm.
Since then, I'm a HUGE believer in visualization and recommend it to literally ALL of my clients (I also use it in other areas of life, but that's a topic for another blog post). I've also heard of some other cool birth stories that were manifested through visualization. And scientifically, there's actually studies that back it up. So...in any event, it's totally worth the 10-15 minutes before falling asleep at night.
Wanna know something else interesting? I did this with both of my babies... I just didn't realize it for baby #1.
Remember the TLC shows I told you I watched while I was couch-ridden with baby #1? Those stories all had a common theme of chaos, heart rate issues, fast labors and meconium. I HAD ALL FOUR.
Visualization - intentional or not - is powerful. Maybe try doing it intentionally so it works out in your favor :) And once baby is here, I'd love to hear if it worked for you, too!
Want to learn more about how to create your dream birth experience? Download my free "8 steps to prepare for the birth of your dreams" guide to set yourself up for success.