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Playing Guided Imagery for Tense, New Moms in the Neonatal Unit?

07 Jun

A doc who heard BR talk about guided imagery at Andy Weil’s Nutrition & Health conference in Dallas last month, has a daughter-in-law who works in a neonatal unit of a hospital.  She wonders if it makes sense for her to play guided imagery for tense new moms, trying to breastfeed their preemies in the neonatal unit.  Here is her question:


I appreciated the reminder about guided imagery at the nutrition conference in Dallas. My daughter-in-law works in a hospital neonatal nursery.  New moms are very tense about breast feeding, and when Mom is tense, it’s hard to breast feed. Guided imagery seems like it could be a great help.  Any thoughts?

Linda E. Yeatts, MD.

Dear Linda,

I think this is an absolutely inspired idea.  

Over the years we've certainly heard from new mothers about how listening to guided imagery just before and during breast feeding helped with relaxation and the activation of their let down response.  

And I’ve recently seen studies showing that milk volume and fat content increased with relaxation.

It seems to me that the imagery would also positively affect the baby - they're influenced by the calming voice tone and music, even if they don't understand the words. (We even find this to be true for the family cat or dog - they chill to guided imagery too!)  So the baby would have a double-whammy benefit -  both in direct response to the recording, and in secondary response to being held and fed by a more relaxed mother.
So the idea of having recordings for the moms to listen to while breast feeding makes an awful lot of sense to me.  Neonatal Units could keep a stash of CDs or Playaways or MP3’s at hand – and I’m serious about the baby listening too, so I’d opt for a player as opposed to head sets, unless it would somehow interfere with other people.  

Hmmm.  I wonder if anyone has tried this at their hospital.  If so, please let us know!

Of the titles we have, I think Relaxation & Wellness would work really well for this.

Thanks for a great idea.

All best,

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award