What is an affirmation and how can it help me during birth?
An affirmation is a phrase or mantra that you can repeat, read, memorize, or listen to during labor and birth to help center yourself and manage pain, fatigue, or mental exhaustion. Whereas something like hypnobirthing is a one-size-fits-all approach where you learn one specific technique with specific scripts to listen to during birth, affirmations are a more fluid concept that can be adapted to each birthing person's individual needs.
How can I choose affirmations?
To choose affirmations, first you may benefit from knowing what kind of birth you'd like to have and how you personally will feel most motivated and calmed. A client told me once she doesn't really like mantras, but the idea that hundreds of women are birthing around the world right now felt like a special way to think of it. Others prefer to have mantras specifically dedicated to the concept of the body opening up. Those who have Cesarean births may choose affirmations that are more focused on the connection with baby and trust in your care team. It just depends on your personality and how you would feel most grounded.
You can look up birth affirmations online, ask your doula if she has a list of affirmations she provides for clients, ask friends and family members if any kind of mantra or affirmation, and craft your own. Deciding what kinds of affirmations you'd like to focus on is something only you can decide.
Even if your plan is to have a completely unmedicated birth, having some inclusive affirmations on hand can be helpful in case things go a different direction. An inclusive affirmation is an affirmation that is motivating and can be applied to a variety of physical birth situations. They can be used whether you have an epidural, a Cesarean birth, or a completely unmedicated birth. While mantras like "Soft hands, soft jaw, open cervix" and "My body was made to do this" can be incredibly empowering, they sometimes lead to feelings of disappointment and guilt if your birth doesn't happen that way. If you have a Cesarean birth, does it mean you failed despite saying "My body was made to do this"? No, it doesn't. But having repeated the mantra may plant the seeds of disappointment in yourself if the outcome is not your ideal.
Here is a short list of inclusive affirmations:
I breathe deeply and I am calm.
My baby and I are working together.
I am not alone.
I am prepared for any path my birth takes.
I will meet my baby soon.
I am flexible and open to change.
I am confident.
I am present. I am doing this. We are doing this.
Birth is powerful and I feel empowered.
Other than pre-written affirmations like this, you can craft your own affirmation by considering how you'd like to feel and what would help you feel that way.
As you choose your affirmations, consider closing your eyes, saying the affirmation out loud, and placing a hand on your chest to do a body check after speaking each one. See how your body feels physically and tap into the emotional charge you might have as you speak each affirmation aloud. This may help guide you to ones that have a clear physiological impact on you, leading you to choose affirmations that are more likely to be useful during birth.
Is its power all in my head?
Not exactly. When your body relaxes or releases tension, your brain also sends signals that trigger physiological responses in your body. This is what we usually call the mind-body connection. Endorphins and oxytocin can be manipulated (to an extent) by focusing on your external stimuli. In other words, controlling your birthing environment to make it as calming and reassuring for you as possible has some advantages. Some ways to achieve this with affirmations is:
hanging cards with your affirmations written on them
asking someone to read the affirmations to you or repeat one of them each contraction
pre-recording your chosen affirmations and listening to them during birth
having affirmations on your phone to scroll through (with the warning that using the phone can be a slippery slope to getting distracted by messages and social media which are some things that can distract us from entering into labor land)
Affirmations can be very useful for some birthers and not very helpful for others. That said, having them prepared can be a helpful tool to have in your birth toolbox, just in case. Many women don't truly know what they'll want or how they'll feel until the moment they're actually in labor. During labor is the time to consider (or have your partner consider) all the tools you had prepared and select ones that work for you. Even if none of the tools end up getting used often, having them prepared may bring you peace of mind as your birthing time approaches.
If you're curious what other ways you can fill your birth toolbox, don't hesitate to get in touch! Also, make sure you're following me on Instagram where I share birth affirmations often!
Giving birth in Madrid or a new mom in Madrid? Looking for support on the wild ride called parenthood?
Look no further - book a free discovery call with me (Madison - doula in Madrid) today and let's chat about how together we can work to make your experience a positive one! And be sure to check out the Madoula homepage. If you're looking for doula support during your pregnancy, birth, or postpartum please be sure to contact me for a free consultation!
Giving birth is one of the most vulnerable moments in a person's life. There are many factors to consider at all times. The support of a doula from home to hospital adds layer of support for both the birthing person and partner. Continuous care and individualized support both increase the likelihood of satisfaction with one's birth experience, regardless of the birth outcome.