Your imagination is a powerful tool. It can dictate, to some extent, how we perceive sensory information including images, sounds, tastes and feelings, including pain.
Take the laurel / yanny phenomenon... with practise you can teach yourself to hear either word at will. Neuroscientist Gabriella Musacchia says that faced with confusing information, the brain decides within a fraction of a second what it will hear.
“We use statistical probability to make almost all of our perceptual decisions... you hear what you listen for."
Play the video and see what happens when you decide to hear either the words 'brainstorm' or 'green needle'.
So what's this got to do with birth?
Some mums report that they decided to interpret the sensations of birth not as pain, but as 'power', 'warmth', 'surges', 'rushes', 'waves' or a 'strong physical sensation that requires all of my focus'.
This isn't woolly wishful thinking. Evidence suggests that self-hypnosis does indeed seem to significantly alter the perception of pain.
Practise controlling physical sensations with the 'comfort dial' (in your pregnancy relaxation MP3).
Test your skills by getting someone to give you a good chinese burn, whilst you focus on keeping calm and breathing deeply!