Preparation Exercises

Attention Focusing

It is easy to get distracted while you labor, and being distracted can cause you to lose your physical relaxation, which may cause you to feel more pain. To prevent distraction, you can learn to focus your attention.

It does not matter what you focus your attention on, simply that you are able to focus it. There are various techniques you can try, some that you can do alone and others that require the help of your labor support.

Some women choose to listen to music or to sing. Some women enjoy having someone else sing or read to them and focus their attention on the voice. Other women enjoy listening to a labor support relate a story about their lives together, or simply tell them how much they are loved. Still other women prefer to follow a script for visualization, a scene being played out in your head. The scene may be a vacation you enjoyed, your favorite movie, or a script written by someone else specifically for the purpose of visualization relaxation. It should be a scene that is relaxing to you, and that you enjoy. You will learn to shut out the other noises in the room as you increase your ability focus only on your one thing.

Some women find it helpful to make an audio tape of favorite songs or poems and use that to focus their attention on. Other women enjoy watching a favorite movie or television show to hold their attention. Some women find it helpful to focus on a picture. There is no right or wrong way to focus your attention, but it will take practice.

After going through the steps to achieve physical relaxation, spend five minutes trying to focus your attention on something without allowing the surrounding environment to distract you. Try a few techniques to see what works best for you. You should find that certain songs, stories or visualizations keep your attention better than others.

There is no need to increase your ability to focus beyond five minutes to ten minutes. Five minutes should get you through two contractions and the rest between them during the hardest part of labor. Some women find it is easier to focus attention during contractions if they pay attention to what is going on around them between every few contractions.

For some women, this will be difficult to learn. Yet it is a very useful tool to have while laboring. Hospitals are busy places with lots of smells, sights and sounds that are unusual and distracting. During a birth center or homebirth those who are with you will not be able to keep the room silent, and you may have noises that come in through the windows or doors. Your goal is to be able to ignore whatever is happening around you, wherever you are, while you relax through a contraction.

Jennifer (Author)