Preparing for Birth with Affirmations

This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website

I’ve written before about my birth affirmations and how they helped me prepare for and participate in labor.  If you’ve never created affirmations before it might seem daunting at first.  I honestly believe they are powerful and more so when they are created by you.  I think this process will benefit your birth experience even if you never get to say a single affirmation during labor or delivery.  It is the preparing itself that is so powerful.  I’d love to share with you how to make your own Birth Affirmations.

What Are Affirmations?

An affirmation is a declaration that something is true.  In a nutshell the idea of self-affirmation is that when we are faced with a stressful situation (such as the unknown of labor and birth) we can improve our outlook about the situation by replacing our mind’s fear statements (called ruminations) with new statements.  The basic premise you have probably heard before in different ways.  “What you think about you bring about.”  or “be the change you want to see in the world.”  or “you are what you think about.”

How Do I Create a Birth Affirmation?

  1. Get to the root of your worry/fear.  Give it a name and it already takes some of the power away.  For example;

    I will be a wimp and not be able to handle the pain of my contractions.

  2. Restate your worry/fear with an opposite statement.

    I will be strong and able to handle the pain of my contractions.

  3. Make it present tense.

    I am strong and am handling the pain of my contractions.

  4. Affirmations are declarations!  They should be short and to the point.  Think of writing them on a picket sign.  Divide your statement into the smallest divisible parts.

    I am strong.
    I am handling the pain of my contractions.

  5. Remove weak or negative words.  “Handle” implies barely getting by, perhaps “conquer” or “stay with” the pain of my contractions (some people don’t like the idea of a contraction as being something to overcome as if it were the enemy – consider your thoughts before choosing a word).  Pain is negative.  It was useful for me to think of them as intense or powerful instead of painful.  And I liked to think of my contractions as a powerful wave.

    I am strong.
    I am riding with the power of my contractions.

  6. Review your worry.  Did you get the meat of it?  Was it really that you think your partner will find you wimpy?  That is a different worry in many ways.  Take a moment to determine if you captured the heart of your true worry.
That is the process I used.  There are variations on this theme you might find useful here and here.  Try it for another worry:
  1. I’m afraid I won’t be able to breastfeed and will resort to formula.
  2. I know I will be able to breastfeed and will not resort to formula. (write the opposite)
  3. I am able to breastfeed and will not resort to formula. (make it present tense)
  4. I am able to breastfeed.
    I will not resort to formula.  (short declarative statements)
  5. I am a successful breastfeeder. (able could imply that you are still uncertain.  You might instead say “breastfeeding comes naturally to me.”  Notice I took the second statement out all together.  It was all a negative “resort” statement.
  6. I am worried that I won’t be able to give my baby the best I can through breastfeeding.  Perhaps going through the process again would be useful to come up with an additional affirmation – I am doing the best for my baby.
One more example:
  1. I’m afraid my labor will take too long.
  2. My labor will not take too long.
  3. My labor is not taking too long.
  4. (already short and declarative)
  5. My labor is proceeding perfectly.
I really think this process itself helps you through so many of your fears and thereby eliminates them!  Now what do you do with them?

What Do I Do With Them Now?

I think that working with these affirmations helps ingrain them.  Then when you need them during labor they just come to you even if you can’t find where you wrote them!  I created for myself a booklet of Birth Affirmations.  I bought spiral bound notecards and different colored markers to create my own little reminders of my affirmations.  I’ll be honest and tell you that I did not take them out of my suitcase at the Birth Center.  However, I truly believe that the ritual of writing them down was infinitely valuable!  If you are a scrapbooker? – embellish it up!  Computers your thing?  Do it online and print it out.  Treat it as something sacred and it will be!
If you are comfortable with it take a few minutes each day to spend quiet time with your baby and your affirmations.  Flip through, visualize, and breathe!  
I truly believe that Affirmations about my in vitro were crucial in my positive outcome.  I meditated on them daily (sometimes with the help of great guided meditations from Belleruth Naperstak and Anji Online).  Imagining my body growing healthy, strong eggs and a thick, nutrient-rich lining to accept the embryos brought me peace and the power of my intentions to bear.
If you are interested in guided meditations or affirmations for pregnancy, labor and childbirth I recommend Belleruth Naperstak.  
Happy birthing!  You are strong! 

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4 thoughts on “Preparing for Birth with Affirmations

  1. I was a participant in my Granddaughters birth and it was a very joyous and amazing experience. I was very proud of your prepared and controlled attitude – unlike my birthing experiences that were frightening and felt totally out of my control. The flash cards were a tool in relaxation. One year later your little miracle is walking and you are both relaxed and wonderful parents. Did I mention how beautiful she is!

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  2. The only thing I would worry about with affirmations is that you have to know when to let them go. “I will have an easy home birth” may end up turning into an emergency c-section or ambulance transfer. I visualized my beautiful home birth many times before I went into labour and I never even got a chance to labour at home because at the last minute we found out I needed a cesarean and there were no ifs, ands or buts about it. Luckily I allowed myself to go with the flow. If I hadn’t though, if I had been really stuck on my affirmations and positive thinking, i think I would have had that much harder of a time coming to terms with the surgery. I guess it’s balance one needs to find for one’s self. Would you agree?

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  3. I understand what you are saying Melodie. For me, the affirmations actually helped me “let go” when I needed to. I think that is because creating the affirmations is not only about visualization of the “perfect” outcome but about alleviating any fears associated with it. My perfect natural water birth became a pitocin/nubain/epidural/flat on my back experience. But because I had worked through the why of my fears about pitocin and an epidural – for example, my “fear” was that an epidural would make me and/or my baby not aware, lucid, and present at birth. My affirmation was eventually that I would be present for my baby. In the end this was why I got the epidural because I wanted to be present (and I wasn’t due to some complications).

    I was able to have a beautiful experience even though it was NOT my perfect vision of my birth. One of my affirmations was “This is the perfect birth for my baby” so no matter what the outcome it was what needed to be for her.

    So, yes I had to let go of some of the affirmations but there were plenty to fill in and I had no fear!

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  4. Pingback: Embodied Presence and Breathing During Delivery | Baby Dust Diaries

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