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 Mind/Body Medicine: Pregnancy and Delivery 
 

As with the imagery and relaxation used prior to surgery, the images used during pregnancy tend to act as posthypnotic suggestions, and the delivery itself is much more comfortable, even with no further conscious effort on the part of the mother. Generally things can be made even more comfortable and pleasing if, during the "labor" (actually this need not be "work" at all) contractions, the Selective Awareness methods of relaxation are used, using the breathing and the contractions themselves as signals to increase the relaxation.

One of the major causes for fear and tension and their complications is that the mother-to-be often feels apprehensive, as though she should be doing more, and because there is nothing to do, tension results. A more rewarding approach is to recognize that she is free to concentrate on her own relaxation. The proper contractions will occur as automatically as her heartbeat. She can thus save her energy for the time when she will be asked to push, which does not occur until near the end of the birth.

When the physician or midwife is aware of the principles of relaxation, the birth can be a pleasant, smooth event. The practice prior to delivering concentrates on relaxation and the awareness that the birth will feel different from her everyday experiences, but that it will not necessarily be uncomfortable, because it is a natural process. She is then encouraged to visualize the proper muscles contracting at the proper times. As each stage of labor and delivery are reached, the physical changes reinforce the imagery and the ability to flow with the experience increases.

I suggest the induction of a deeply relaxed state just before going to the delivery room or at the onset of labor. I also request that the lights in the delivery room be kept as low as practically possible, that the voices of others in the room be kept low, and that the nurses refrain from using such words as pain, hurt, labor, shot, or other expressions that imply that there will be discomfort or disability as a result of what is going on. The reason for the dimming of the lights stems from a finding common to many individual Explorations that have led back to the birth experience. Many of my patients have said that at birth they were very aware of the frightening aspect of the white or green delivery room and the surrounding masked faces.

Also stemming from these experiences is my current practice of giving the infant to the mother as soon as possible following birth, because numerous times I have found among my patients lifelong feelings of rejection and loneliness dating back to being carried off by an indifferent nurse after delivery.

Following a delivery, suggestions are given to ensure adequate stoppage of bleeding and rapid healing. As with all surgical wounds, small vaginal lacerations or episiotomy repairs heal much more rapidly when they are not associated with fear. Often, even when stitches are present, the woman is able to stand up following delivery and walk comfortably to her bed.

The main principles, then, in pregnancy and delivery are:

  1. Elimination of fears regarding pregnancy and delivery through Exploration and deconditioning.
  2. Positive programming and elimination of negative expectation (such as sickness, pain, or a damaged child).
  3. Extensive practice in deep relaxation, focusing on breathing, with suggestions to produce anesthesia, beginning months before delivery when possible.
  4. Visualization of rapid healing and return of strength following birth.
The baby's father can be included in all visualizations, including those of delivery, the postdelivery period, and the baby at three or four months.
(Excerpted from Opening Your Inner 'I': Discover Healing Imagery Through Selective Awareness ISBN: 0890876428)
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