After tossing and turning with my enormous body pillow, I find myself lying in bed (yes, *eyeroll*, on my side!), unable to get comfortable. I simply cannot fall asleep. It appears that my little one has decided to enroll in a midnight acrobats class. “I hope this is not a sign that she is destined to be a night owl,” I think to myself. My heartburn is red-hot, my hips ache, and my breathing is shallow as my daughter has decided to position herself up underneath my ribcage. “Just a couple more weeks,” I think to myself, “I can do this.”
I lean over and grab my phone from my nightstand and begin to scroll. I stop and read a brief article and then scroll some more. I notice my mind and heart both starting to race. There seems to be an endless amount of information at the fingertips of pregnant mamas nowadays, doesn’t there? Women have been birthing babies for thousands of years. Why does it all seem, well, so complicated, confusing, and overwhelming?
The Nervous Anticipation of Childbirth
The practice of birthing a human has remained largely the same, but the entire process from a woman entering labor to the delivery of her baby in the United States has evolved drastically over the past 100 years. While there are still many babies born in their homes or at a birthing center, there has been a significant shift towards hospital births and advancements (albeit a controversial term) in perinatal medical care.
Uncertainties and questions start to pop up in my mind. Will I know when I am in labor? Will my water break or will contractions progress? Will I labor for hours or be speeding to the hospital like in the movies? (As an aside, it was the latter — a wild story for another time!) Will I deliver vaginally or by C-section? Will she be healthy? Will there be complications?
I abruptly stop myself from jumping straight down the rabbit hole. And this, my friends, is where the magic happens. I stop, focus on taking long deep breaths, and begin to repeat my adopted affirmation over and over in my mind. I could literally feel my tense body relax and calm down, my nervous escalating thoughts drift away. I place my hand on my belly and feel my baby girl moving, full of vitality, in smooth, familiar cadence. I close my eyes and whisper a quiet prayer of gratitude.
Remaining Calm and Positive is Essential
The anticipated arrival date for a pregnant woman is met with a wide range of high emotions: excitement, longing, hesitation, thrill, curiosity. As I expressed in my previous article about Pregnancy Affirmations, an affirmation is an inherently optimistic statement, typically a brief phrase. It is repeated frequently to challenge our negative thoughts. It is designed to encourage a positive, hopeful mindset. Ultimately, we attract what we think. If we consciously choose to practice mindfulness and change our thought patterns, we will shift our focus from anxiety and fear to useful, productive thoughts. In doing so, we are more likely to trust these positive words and perhaps even will it to manifest.
Birth Affirmations to Try
Below is a list of birth affirmations you might consider using during your birth. Pick a few and practice them throughout your pregnancy and see how you feel. Does it feel right and true and good? Does it bring you peace and calm? Repeating your affirmation throughout your labor and delivery can reproduce that same state of mind. I was gifted a small wooden square sign with my birth affirmation printed on it. So I brought it with me to the hospital and had it on display straight ahead to focus on it while laboring. Here are some ideas:
- Let go and trust the process.
- I can do this. Be brave.
- I am surrounded by people who love and support me.
- My body knows exactly what to do.
- I am ready. My baby is ready.
- This life inside me is a miracle waiting to happen.
- My body was designed to grow and nourish my baby and to give birth to him/her.
- There can be joy in the pain.
- Healthy baby. Strong mama.
- My baby and I are safe and protected.
- I am free to speak my wants and needs.
- Stay present. Be here.
- My heart is full of love and gratitude.
- My body is indeed beautifully and wonderfully made. It truly is capable of anything.
- For this child, I prayed.
- It’s going to be okay. The baby and I are going to be okay.
- I relax and feel my body open for my baby.
- My body was made to do this.
- The power and intensity of my contractions cannot be stronger than me, because it is me.
- My body is capable and smart and strong.
- Babies are smart. They know how to get out.
- My body made this baby. My body can birth this baby.
- I am safe and my baby is safe.
- Everything is going right.
- I welcome strong waves that are bringing our baby closer to us.
- I appreciate the blessing, no matter the outcome.
- Don’t quit. Keep going.
- If not now, then when?
- This moment is not lost on me.
- Just breathe.
- Be patient, he/she is coming.
- This birth is in perfect timing for me and my baby.
- I am okay. I am okay.
- My body is fierce and powerful. I am strong and capable.
- My journey has led me here, and there is nowhere else I would rather be.
- I am thankful and feel at peace as I await his/her arrival.
- I am soaking up this precious moment.
- There is beauty in the waiting.
The benefits of practicing birth affirmations have lasting effects. There are no rules per se about how you have to use affirmations but aim to repeat the phrase many times throughout the day in the weeks leading up to your delivery to reinforce the belief. Speaking it out loud or having your support person repeating it as a reminder throughout your experience can also be powerful and effective.
“Women have been giving birth for thousands of years. I hold onto the strength of all the women who have gone before me.”
You Can Do This!
As you prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally for your baby’s birth, amongst all of the uncontrollable factors, this is something you can do that is within your control. You can decide how you want to show up: full of fear and anxiety or with self-affirmation and a determined, positive mindset. Practicing birth affirmations is a helpful way to set the stage for this paramount life-changing event. Will there still be discomfort? Yes. Will you still have fleeting moments of worry and concern? Of course, and understandably so. But, more importantly, you will also feel empowered and prepared to handle whatever comes your way. Let your chosen words ground you, equip you, ease you, keep you present, and remind you that Yes! You can do this!