I have always found that my mental state during pregnancy directly affects the births that I have. With my eldest, a negative and stressful pregnancy led to a similarly negative birth experience. Being in a much more joyful, strong place whilst pregnant with my eldest daughter resulted in a thrilling and happy (if not-to-plan!) birth. And then I have spoken often of the transformative power of birth that I experienced in my last labour.
A lot of that positivity came from within, my own peace as a human, as an individual, as a mother; simply knowing who I was gave me so much strength.
Equally, I had wonderful light and support coming from others. My husband, Stephen, lifted me every day. My doula, Hannah, held my hands and listened as I made plans. My friends came together to celebrate the unborn life and my steps towards her birth at a blessingway, complete with cake-stealing cat, henna, and a rather gorgeous crown!
I also created a birthing altar, a place in my home that was brimful of good vibes. I collected together birth related art, both prints and done by friends. My husband kept me well supplied in fresh flowers and candles. Quite simply, the act of surrounding myself with this positive imagery had a beneficial effect on my mindset.
I first realised the power that imagery has on us when I was a little girl reading Roald Dahl’s childhood autobiography, Boy. In it, he talks about how when his mother was in the last three months of her pregnancies, his father would announce that “the glorious walks” would begin. He would take her to places of great natural beauty, confident that the stunning surroundings was directly influencing his unborn child, filling them with joy and love and an appreciation for the world.
With that in mind, I had particular phrases I used to meditate on during pregnancy. Little affirmations to repeat over and over, like a mantra.
I am strong enough.
I am good enough.
The words we choose to use in pregnancy, and throughout our lives, can hugely affect us. If you constantly tell yourself that you are (insert whatever negative label you might lean towards using here), then that is how you’re going to feel. We are constantly bombarded with this overwhelming barrage of images of birth being hard and painful, filled with screaming and blood, which I am sure directly correlates to the amount of women who feel petrified heading into birth. One Born Every Minute has a lot to answer for.
Imagine if we approached our first births having only ever been told that women are strong, that birth is transformative, that you can trust your body and your instincts, completely confident in the knowledge that you WILL be listened to and respected throughout the entire process. Imagine if most births in the media were portrayed as active, moving around the birthing space, swaying and breathing, accompanied cow-type lowing, natural and uninterrupted. We would be in so much of a better place to bring another life into this world.
As a doula, I’ve seen first hand the incredible impact that positive language and imagery can have on a pregnancy.
A good example is the use of the word ‘contractions’. It brings imagery of tightness, closing up. It’s a tense word. Replace that with surges or waves and the images that come to mind are so very different. Waves brings beaches, that wave of intensity moving up and over your body, consuming you, and then washing away.
How about the word ‘labour’? It gives a feeling of hard work and toil, exhaustion. Using ‘birthing’ instead feels much more active, and yet feels softer in the mouth, softer in the body than ‘labour’.
It is so important to remember the power these words have during our pregnancies and births, and I found myself thinking a lot about designing my own set of birth affirmation cards. So I did!
I drew on my own birth experiences with my three children, as well as the births I have attended as a doula, and with lots of discussion with friends about what phrases and words they found inspiring, calming, and positive in their own journeys.
Within a mid-green and golden yellow colour scheme, each one has a different positive birth affirmation on it. These were originally designed for a mother blessing client, and the main focus of this set is fear release and actively acknowledging and letting go of what has been (perhaps a negative birth experience previously), and moving forward into light and trust, with quiet, shining confidence.
The idea that a Mama is seeing these strong, affirming words over and over in through her day, even if she’s not *actively* seeing them, those words are gently sinking into her psyche to rest in her subconscious.
This is just the first finished set, and I have another two in different colours and themes, with differing focuses in progress. Eventually, some of these affirmations will be available as art prints too, which I am crazy excited about!
The affirmations included in this particular set are;
– Birth is safe for me and my baby
– Each surge brings my baby closer to me
– I am awake. I am aware. I am unafraid.
– I am so strong
– I release my fear
– I trust birth
– I will give this birth everything I have. Nothing holds me back.
– It is safe for me to be happy during this pregnancy
– My breaths are long, slow, and relaxed
– One breath at a time
Ultimately, you can’t control something which has so much of a Wild aspect to it like birth naturally does. What you CAN do is bring positivity, reminders of strength, and encourage that trust in yourself and your instincts to your pregnancy, putting yourself in the best position possible to move into the final stages of bringing your baby earthside.
If you’d like to purchase a set for yourself, you can head on over to my MamaPixie Etsy store.