I’m only 10 days postpartum and I can truthfully attribute much of my attitude about my birth experience to one central concept; birth affirmations. I began my second pregnancy searching for ways to take control of my birth experience. I wanted to feel in as much control of my body as possible during a potentially traumatic situation (where I previously felt out of control); a situation in which my wishes and abilities were ignored.
First, I selected a midwife who was both straightforward and honest, while also being respectful and knowledgable about women’s innate ability to navigate birth from within rather than from multiple external sources (i.e. medical professionals and medication). Yes, my goal for this second birth was another unmedicated birth, but I wanted to enjoy the birthing process. I knew it was possible for some women and my ambition was to strive towards that positive birth story. I wanted to make it my story.
I stocked up on birthing-guru, self-help, guide books by authors such as Ina May Gaskin, Katharine Graves and Pam England. I read about hypo-birthing, about birth art, and about the extensively traumatic women’s history surrounding birth in the United States. I watched every birthing video I could get my hands on from the library and online. To me, knowledge is a tool in which I can use when my mind starts racing and I begin to doubt myself.
I came across the concept of birth affirmations. I love positive affirmations and visual cues, and actually used both prior to becoming pregnant in regards to my parenting. As an artist, I enjoy doodling so I would doodle a thought that I wanted to remind myself of and decorated it as I saw fit. I then would hang it somewhere I would see it daily, often times the fridge, by my bedside, or in the bathroom. When life gets hectic we can forget our goals and our ‘mission’ we are on, but visual reminders that we repeatedly see can help keep us on the right track. This is what birth affirmations do, only with specific focus on the birth experience and the end result; a happy and healthy mom and baby.
I have an Etsy shop where I sell the set of birth affirmation cards I created for my own pregnancy and birth, both in digital download form and print form. They can be found here. Although, if you have the time and energy you can DIY it very easily, especially if you’re not picky on how the cards look. You can start with making a list of what you want out of your birth, followed by a list of your fears surrounding birth. Take the list of fears and for each fear write at least one empowering statement that you’re going to tell yourself daily in order to combat that fear.
For example, a fear I had was the fear of the pain of back labor again. To combat this one of my cards says, “My body is made to do exactly this,” as well as,”Each surge brings me closer to my baby.” These are ways I conditioned my mind to accept the pain as it came and recognize the way it progressed my labor towards meeting my son. Another fear I had both throughout pregnancy and birth was that I wasn’t strong enough to get through it, so one of my cards says, “You’re doing better than you think.”
You can also find bible verses if you’re religious, or inspirational quotes if that’s your cup of tea. Once you compile all of your affirmations, take index cards and boldly write your affirmations. You can decorate them however you’d like, either with significant images or colors that soothe you or remind you of your ideal birth. Hang them where you’ll see them the most, where you’ll stop to read them for a moment on a regular basis.
What we tell ourselves daily about ourselves can alter our perceptions and increase our confidence in ourselves. We don’t have to hand over our bodies to doctors and hope for the best. We can participate in birth and take charge in the outcome because our bodies were made for this! The benefit to doing this, to using birth affirmations and training our mind to think positively, is that our pain can be lessened without the use of medications. That is the power of the mind.
My birth wasn’t pain free by any means, but my coping mechanism kicked in from the beginning and I was able to handle what my body was doing. I didn’t fight what was happening, causing more pain, I accepted it and went with it because I had spent the last nine months telling myself all of the sensations were normal. They are normal. They may hurt but they’re normal.
My medically necessary induction was unmedicated and I didn’t tear. At all. I had no stinging horrific bathroom trip after giving birth! This was after going from 4cm to baby being born in a matter of just under two and a half hours; 19 minutes of that being pushing. It was painful and I had moments of doubt, but I KNEW what I wanted and what I was capable of because my mind was right.
This was a night-and-day difference from my first birth and that is a massive, massive accomplishment for me. I may not have gotten my birth center birth, where I labored in a tub with my husband. I may not have gotten a birth free from monitoring. I may not have gotten to go home shortly after giving birth. BUT, I took control of what I could control and that was my thoughts and my attitude. I was rewarded with a healthy baby and minimal recovery!
I’d love to hear your stories of how you used birth affirmations to guide your mindset during pregnancy and birth, or feel free to share some of your favorite birth affirmations! 🙂