Welcome to Letters From Your Doula. This is a blog that I use to connect with you and share my knowledge, research, and fun exercises that you can use through your transformative journey from conception to parenting.
Introducing my word of the year:
Breathe. Word of the year for 2023.
A couple nights ago my word of the year came to me as I was writing from my December 2023 perspective of the year.
Breathe. Breathing. Breath.
I started to notice the theme was breathing into my businesses and then running smoothly or breathing signs of relief, having this be the year that releases, deciding to breathe life into whatever else path takes me, we exhale, we expand, things breathe. This is going to be the year that breathes back to me.
This word came from a journal prompt I saw floating around. Write from the perspective of you a year from now.
The year 2023 is finishing up and I am reflecting on what I have learned. What have I gained during this year? What do I feel?
During that time I kept seeing the same thing over again which was the visual of something twitching to life through an inhale or a heart beating. The thoughts of my businesses having breath and becoming its own life. Breathing sighs of relief for reaching the goals and having my feet settled. Breath popped up multiple times.
This became my word of the year. A word of the year to me isn’t just what I think will happen, it becomes a grounding word. I know more than likely this is a word that I’ll have to be intentional with decisions, habits, and creating things that’ll embody this word. Breathe is a guiding light.
Following this, it made me think about using affirmations, words, or visualizations during labor and how helpful a tool like this could be. You can also use this for your conception journey.
When I talk to my clients about birth planning we go over the non-medical pain management tools and most pregnant people love to incorporate this into their plans. However these tools have to be used before the event happens to provide the relief that is associated with visualizations.
Using visualizations and words during your birth
What makes visualizations or imagery or words work?
“Guided imagery places our mind into a state of deep relaxation, reducing the presence of stress hormones, decreasing muscle tension, and ultimately shifting our attention away from pain. Our imagination allows us to create positive, pleasant images. These images distract us from pain and provide us with a sense of comfort and control.
The more often you’re able to redirect your focus away from pain, the weaker neural pathways associated with pain become. Imagine that each time you practice a positive pain relieving visualization, the more you break the chronic pain cycle.” https://www.pathways.health/visualization-guided-imagery-for-pain-relief/
“For example, a systematic review (Giacobbi et al., 2015) evaluated seven studies on guided imagery for rheumatic conditions. All seven studies supported guided imagery as a useful modality for treating pain, with positive effects on psychological well-being, mobility, anxiety, and improved self-efficacy in managing pain and symptoms.”
Two exercises you can use to find your imagery.
- Use what you already love?
Do you already have an image that fills you with relief when you think about it? Like your partner’s smile, your smile, a favorite destination, a honeymoon, your safe space, a favorite tv show episode. Something that gives you pause and makes you feel good when you think about it. The connection to your oxytocin is already there for you to use again through labor contractions (waves or surges)
- Reflective exercise.
Spend some time actually imagining your labor from start to finish. From early labor to being in the postpartum (whether you are in the hospital, home, or birthing center) Write what your five senses are experiencing. Is there a word that pops up or color or image? Take that word and use that as your focus and the imagery that word brings
What do you do when you have your word or your visual you’re going to use?
Use that visual in birth and make it come to life with nature sounds that you would hear, smells, tastes anything that will trigger and bring the visualization to life. When you’re having a contraction, close your eyes and focus on that visual.
On the other hand, when choosing a word, start to look up the symbolism of the word and my own definitions of the word and I make intention movements and plans to insert that word or feeling into my everyday life.
Next, I begin creating associations of relief, strength, and peace with that word. Eat your favorite food and take a moment to think of your word. Practice your breathing with the word. Incorporate it fully into your life so when the big day comes you are able to pull on the strength of the word.
Let me know if you’d use birth visualization during your labor or already have a word you are using as a guide?
Happy New Year