Regional Director: Melissa Hemphill

Our All-Star Team is growing!

We’d love to introduce you to our Regional Directors over the next few weeks. Melissa Hemphill is BirthFIT’s Regional Director in Florida. She is our go-to lady in Florida. She is a CrossFit Games Regional Competitor, a Lieutenant in the Air Force, and mother of two superstars. Check out her bio on our website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


Read Melissa’s Birth Story.

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Visualization and Birth


Athletes have successfully utilized visualization to enhance their physical abilities for centuries.  The scientific evidence caught up with this insight with the advent of brain imaging technologies like positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).  In a number of different studies, scientists founds that visualizing a physical task stimulates the same regions of the brain as actually performing the physical task.  Pretty neat.


If you’re like me, the keys to learning and high performance are reps and sets.  Whether it’s public speaking or the miracle that is the Olympic lifts, rehearsing them over and over is essential.  Enter pregnancy (stage right).  And now we have a game changer.  I’m going to make a generic assumption and say that women want to be ready for childbirth.  Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to get adequate reps and sets to feel fully prepared for childbirth.  Even previous labors and deliveries can be ambiguously helpful as every pregnancy is different.  This is where we turn to visualization and mental practice.


The female body is both blessed and cursed when it comes to the perceptions of childbirth.  The blessing is the significant anatomical changes a woman’s body undergoes to accommodate the birth process.  The curse is its gross under-appreciation due to the internal nature of these changes.  Unlike the male anatomy, women cannot SEE these extraordinary changes, making direct visualization (of a contracting uterus and dilating cervix) that much harder.  Fortunately, there are a few hacks that allow us to achieve fruitful mental practices.


First, witness a crowning baby either in real life, a picture, or small figurine.  Ancient cultures brought these figurines to the rooms of laboring women to help them progress.  In light of the visualization studies, this makes sense.  A crowing baby implies complete dilation, total effacement, and an open birth channel.  This “bottom-up” visualization is an excellent way to mentally practice childbirth and keep labor advancing.


Second, think “open” thoughts like a blossoming flower or waves ebbing and flowing.  Both of these are gentle and natural images that are just as effective as direct visualizations.  Neuro-physiologically, the same pathways and regions of the brain are stimulated.
So many women view birth as the ULTIMATE female experience—that they extended themselves to achieve this supernatural process.  As a mother of two, I easily relate to this sentiment.  This is the very reason why visualization is necessary in the first place.  Recently, however, I’ve been considering the idea that birth is a not as ultimate as we think it is.  What if we viewed birth as perfectly normal and extended ourselves to that level of performance in every other aspect of our lives?  I say we’d have a bunch of badass mothers walking around!

-Melissa Hemphill

TWITTER: @MellieHemp



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3 x 10 Ring Rows or Bent Over Rows

3 x 10 Face Pulls w/ a Resistance Band

-Rest as needed-

10 Rounds 

50′ Farmers Carry

2 Strict Pull ups



Notes and Modifications

  • Face Pulls = pull resistance band to eye level.
  • Bent Over Rows are going to be on the lighter side.
  • Farmers carry = heavier side of things. Remember to perform an excellent dead lift when lifting the weight from the ground. Go 25′ out and 25′ back.
  • Pull ups can be done with a band or ring rows can sub.

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