By Michelle Mayefske
Positive affirmations can be incredibly powerful during pregnancy, labour and birth. These statements, which are often repeated, help retrain the mind in preparation for potential physical and emotional challenges. The power doesn't necessarily come from the words that are being said, but how they make the person FEEL! Positive affirmations can lead to feelings of empowerment, confidence and trust.
One of the most challenging things for me personally was learning to TRUST my body during pregnancy and labour. I am a firm believer that society teaches women not to trust their bodies in many ways. Media in the form of television, books, magazines, etc. are often fear-based and provide not much more than dramatic "worst case scenarios" that create a climate of fear and doubt leading up to labour. These dramatic stories are often designed primarily for one thing, ratings. When negative, fear-based messages are permeating your world from all angles, how ARE YOU supposed to enter your birth experience feeling anything other than fear and anxiety!?
Let's start surrounding pregnancy and birth
with positive and uplifting energy!
This is where surrounding yourself with a positive pregnancy environment comes in. Socialise with others who are willing to talk about the positives in regards to pregnancy and birth. No one needs to ignore the difficulties or things that can go wrong of course, but creating a space where you can talk openly and honestly about the things that can go right is important. Try to find a loving environment with other expectant moms and families that aren't going to use fear-mongering as their baseline. Read books on positive birth, search out birth videos and leave the negative behind. Being fully informed by seeking evidence-based information is important but we don't have to accept a culture that teaches women that their bodies are broken. Oftentimes websites, books and other resources with positive birth information are the exact places where you are also going to find some amazing birth affirmations!
I personally used birth affirmations plus visualisation during prenatal yoga and meditation while pregnant and during labour. I found them very helpful in "rewiring" my brain so I felt more confident in my body and it's ability to birth all of my babies. There is a true power in the mind/body connection that cannot be underestimated. When you go into labour feeling more confident, you are better able to relax, work with your contractions and even visualise the birth that you want while in the moment. It is easier to let go of your fears, trust, surrender, open and work with your body to birth your baby. Many women attest that using birth affirmations lead to a smoother, shorter and less challenging birth experience.
There are so many birth affirmations available- short, long, humorous, you name it! Some birth affirmations are completely spontaneous. I had a doula present at my second birth. While I had read birth affirmations prior to labour, none came to my mind during the actual event. At one point my doula said to me during a contraction, "breathe your baby down" in a calm, soothing voice. For the remainder of my labour, all eight hours, I had those words in my mind. With many of my contractions I visualised my body opening and doing just that, helping my baby descend into my pelvis as I took deep inhalations. It was one of the best "tools" I had during my labour and something that kept me going even when my labour stalled for four hours! I hung onto those words and trusted my body to do what it is designed to.
I encourage you to read birth affirmations during pregnancy that you find online or through other sources. You may like some but not others and that's okay! Choose a few that you really like and return to them regularly. They may come in handy during labour! Share them with other expectant parents, make a collage, do some adult colouring or create a positive birth board. Prepare your mind for labour just as you do your body and enjoy the positive affirmations that bring love and light into your experience!