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    Visualization/Relaxation Technique

    • Begin with a deep cleansing breath.
    • Close your eyes.
    • Relax every part of your body: head and neck, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, chest, back, belly, hips, bottom, legs, feet, and toes.
    • Picture a place in your mind where you feel warm and safe (this may be in your home, a place where you went as a child, or a warm sandy beach on an island with the breeze blowing and the rhythmic sound of the water in the background). Formulate the details in your mind, so that when a contraction gets closer, you can call on this image and have all the details in place.
    • Slowly breathe with your contraction.
    • When the contraction ends, take a deep cleansing breath and return to reality.
    • Open your eyes.

    As your labor progresses and your cervix opens, you may find your contractions are stronger and longer lasting. They may also occur more frequently. You may notice that the bloody mucous plug from your cervix and your membranes eventually break. Focused breathing will make a tremendous difference in your ability to deal with contractions. If you feel that you would like medication or an epidural, be sure to communicate your wishes to your nurses and care providers. It is everyone's goal to help you get through this labor, and medication use or an epidural may actually help your labor. Listen to your body, and it will tell you what it needs in the way of breathing, pain relief, and rest.

    The pressure of the contraction inside the uterus increases 100 percent during the active phase of labor. When you are sitting up, rocking, walking, squatting, or kneeling, your abdominal wall relaxes and allows the top of your uterus to fall forward. This directs the baby's head toward your cervix, increasing pressure, allowing it to stretch, and reducing the length of labor. Lying on your side is a good position when laboring as your heart is more efficient, your uterus gets more blood flow to it, and your baby gets more oxygen. Positions that reduce the length of labor but allow the contractions to be most efficient are best for the baby.

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