Mental Preparation for Labor and Delivery

brainWhile it may be tempting to think of labor and delivery as a primarily physical experience, it is important that you do not underestimate the mind’s role in the process of birth. Mental preparation for the birth of your baby is important, and preparing yourself for success can help you to have a smoother labor and delivery. Here are a few things that you can do to mentally prepare yourself for the big day.

Read positive birth stories. When I was pregnant, I used to avoid hearing birth stories because many of the ones that I had initially heard were very negative. During my second pregnancy, I read the classic childbirth resource “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin. There are many stories in there of beautiful, natural births that made me realize that reading birth stories can be a wonderful way to prepare for childbirth if you read positive and empowering stories.

Many women report that visualizing their birth experience was helpful, even if the birth that they experienced was quite different than the birth that they visualized. By thinking through the process of what happens during a birth and imagining yourself and your partner going through the motions and holding your healthy baby after he is born, you are making birth a familiar experience in your mind even though you have not experienced it. It can help to ease the fear and anxiety that comes with entering uncharted territory.

As you prepare yourself for labor and delivery, be sure to engage in plenty of positive self talk. If you repeatedly tell yourself that you are strong and capable and you remind yourself that your body was made to not only carry a baby for nine months but also to deliver that baby into the world, that thought will take root and become a belief. The positive things that you tell yourself now can even serve as a mantra that you can use to calm and center yourself when labor begins. Choose whatever saying you like, even something as simple as “I’ve got this” can help you to stay in a positive state of mind during labor and delivery.

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