Mind Over Labor

Reviewed Publisher: 
Viking Penquin Inc., 192 pgs., $15.95, 1987.
Reviewed Title: 
Mind Over Labor
Reviewed Author: 

Mind Over Labor is a step by step guide which uses mental imagery to help the expectant mother tap into her inner resources and strengths in order to surrender and work with labor. Jones recognizes that the body and the mind have to work in harmony in pregnancy and during labor-a truly holistic approach.

This well researched book discusses issues new on the childbirth scene such as the altered state of mind of the laboring woman. Jones concludes, "As her heart (right) brain comes to dominate the scene, the laboring woman becomes more intuitive, more 'primitive.' She also becomes more introspective." Having spent years teaching pregnant women, I definitely agree that pregnancy and labor are an altered state of consciousness but others in our field don't view it this way.

In the chapter which includes the Five Essentials of a Positive, Healthy View of Birth, the author covers essentials for a positive birth image. He says, "Birth is a natural process, not a medical event. Birth is a normal process, not an illness. Birth is a social event. The mother is at the center of the childbearing drama and the parents are responsible for making wise choices." These depictions of a natural and normal process in spite of the interventions such as monitoring, etc. recommended by many professionals squarely puts the controls in the hands of the parents. If they want a good birth experience, they have to take the responsibility for it. Those that truly seek a better way to birth can do it by using mental imagery and positive thinking skills.

Through an eight step plan that includes understanding the inner event of labor; developing a positive image of birth; relaxing mind and body; using mental imagery during pregnancy; creating the optimal birth environment; invitation to a birth; using mental imagery in labor; and enjoying the first hours after birth the author thoroughly describes how the laboring woman can get her body and brain to work in harmony.

As I read some of the visualizations Jones describes in his book, I was startled because I had been using practically the same ones in my Positive Pregnancy Fitness classes. Yet he did not know about my audio cassette tape, Relax and Enjoy Your Baby Within until I sent him a copy. When he heard my tape, he was surprised too because apparently we had all been affirming getting in touch and loving our unborn babies without having discovered each others work.

This is an example of one of the many visualizations in Mind Over Labor:

Relax completely.

This is a special time to be with your baby in a unique way. Be aware of your breathing. Let it become a little slower, a little deeper. Imagine that you and your baby are breathing in harmony.

Now imagine that you are inside the womb-face to face with your unborn child, who is comfortable and secure in a private sea of crystal clear water.

Let the love you feel for your child well up within you.

Dwell on the image of your child and on the feeling of love for a minute or two.

At this time you may feel the baby moving, stretching and kicking in his warm, secure home.

If you find your attention wandering, repeat the word "baby" . . . "baby" . . . "baby"-with each breath you let out. Let yourself drift into a more peaceful relaxed state.

Before you end your imagery, tell yourself: I am able to give my child everything he needs to grow and develop.

Then when you are ready, count slowly to five, stretch and gently open your eyes. (p. 87)

This well written book covers a missing link in the childbirth education process for the author understands the state of consciousness that the expectant mother is in. It should be rquired reading for any expectant parents who are looking for ways to take responsibility for the birth of their babies and also for all childbirth educators to better understand and make use of the intangible and intuitive right brain processes during birth. Carl Jones has a respect for process of birth, the parents and the unborn child. He is to be commended for such a timely book.

Publication Date: 
05/1988