What it is:
Visualization is like seeing a movie being played on a movie screen on the inside of your forehead when you close your eyes. The mother either imagines a scene as she thinks of it, or she imagines a scene as she is directed by her coach.
How it works:
Visualization will help to keep the mother relaxed by keeping her mind focused on one thing, and preferably, a relaxing thing. It can be very difficult to relax your body when your mind is jumping through thoughts of worry and fear.
Rather than thinking, "Did I shut off the TV? I better call my mother. Why does that nurse keep coming in here? When will this contraction end? Oh No! We left the Dog outside!"; the mother will remain focused on one image throughout her contraction, or through several contractions.
How to do it:
When the mother is in a comfortable position, have her close her eyes and begin to describe to her a scene. The more detail you give the easier it will be for her to visualize. Lead her through the description of the surroundings and even describe the activities of the people in the scene if you are able to be that creative.
It may help to describe to the mother a time you shared together, such as an enjoyable vacation or a favorite hangout. It will work just as well to describe to her the activities you enjoyed together as it will to run her through activities of strangers you make up.
Integrating it into labor:
One of the most common visualizations is a day at the beach. Describe the feel of the sand on her skin, the sound of the waves and the sea gulls in the air. Describe the smells, and the heat from the sun.
Some women find visualizing their cervix opening helps them to remain focused on what they are doing. Others find visualizing their favorite flower opening from a bud to a full bloom is an easier way to visualize opening.
To really encourage relaxation, describe to the mother that her body is melting into the bed (or couch, or floor, or whatever she is resting on). Go into detail about her body becoming liquid and sinking, partly dripping and partly drooping.