Many people think of visualization as imagining a happy place and trying to recreate that place in your mind. This is certainly one type of visualization. Sometimes, labor is too intense for that much thought or, if it is not practiced beforehand, it does not come easily in labor. This exercise for visualization is much simpler and can be used on the spot.
You will want to begin by taking a few, deep abdominal breaths. This will help your release tension and center yourself. Then picture an image that represents tension, this could be any image, but the exercise will be most effective if you choose a picture that represents something to you from your own life. Examples might be a closed cervix or fist, a contraction, a crying baby.
Continue the deep breathing as you find this tension image. As soon as you have focused on an image, begin to find a way to relax the image. That is, have the cervix soften and open in your mind; watch the contraction work and then ease; or have the crying baby brought skin to skin and calm.
You can use this during contractions or afterward as you try to scan your body for tension after the contraction is over. When you are done with this visualization exercise, consider repeating an affirmation to praise yourself and reinforce the relaxing thoughts.
The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Book. Davis, M, Eshelman, ER, McKay M. New Harbinger Publications, 2008.