When it comes to birth, our minds have a huge impact on our experience. I have felt this effect during my own birthing times and been strengthened by words and imagery. Of course, it’s not always a positive thing. I’ve also felt the panic and fear creeping in when I didn’t feel completely safe during birth, when I didn’t devote enough attention to my mental state. A woman working to birth her child can be particularly susceptible to verbal input. With her mind in an altered state induced by hormones and intense sensations, she is working on a different plane. During birth, a woman is at once her most powerful and her most vulnerable self. I consider it part of my job as a doula to wrap a warm blanket of comforting words and touch around that vulnerability in order to free up her mind to focus on her power and the task at hand. Birth affirmations are tools that I often use in my work with birthing mothers. It should be noted that this altered state also allows a woman to be strongly impacted by negative verbal input. One negative or threatening sentence can be enough to target her vulnerability and leave her feeling anxious and insecure. I do my best to shield her from negativity and envelope her with love and support.
Here are some of my favorite birth affirmations. Remember them next time you or someone you love gives birth.
“Not only can you do it, you ARE doing it.” Phrasing affirmations in present active voice adds to their power. I’ve had many women tell me that just rephrasing the more passive statement, “I can do it,” to the more active phrase, “I am doing it,” made all the difference.
“You are doing this. You are birthing your baby right now.” Because sometimes in the thick of it, we forget what it’s all about. This phrase helps add perspective to the work.
“Imagine your baby coming down…and out…and into your arms.” Visualizing their little one’s journey and thinking of their sweet baby can boost a mother’s morale and her focus.
“You will be holding your baby soon and you will get to kiss her sweet head.” This usually brings a smile to the mother’s face and smiles can encourage releasing and opening, both mentally and physically.
“Imagine your cervix getting bigger and bigger.” This one can be quite powerful and really bring on those strong waves that birth babies.
“You are doing beautifully.” Birthing women respond so well to this kind of encouragement. When they are faced with a task that often takes them beyond their usual comfort zone, it can be so empowering to hear that they are doing a wonderful job.
“Yes, love. Just like that.” Women in birth need immediate feedback on their efforts. When they completely release during a surge, or when their pushing efforts have inched baby down a bit further, hearing that she is doing all the right things can be very encouraging.
“Your body was made for this.” In a society that often tells women that their bodies are broken, it can be so powerful for a mother to realize that her body knows what to do, that she knows what to do.
Words carry so much power and it is so important to use them carefully and wisely during birth. Don’t underestimate the weight words can carry with a birthing mother.