Birth Affirmations & making them work for you
Through the Confident Childbirth process, we want to cultivate positive ways of framing the birthing experience, open the mind to positive beliefs and practice supportive self-talk. Birth affirmations are part of this mind retraining and also can become a powerful tool for labour.
Why are birth affirmations helpful?
Self-talk and our inner narrative about what’s happening during birth matters. How we think about birth and talk to ourselves during new or challenging moments can really make the difference. If we are telling ourselves, we can’t do something then we tend to get in our own way.
Language is hypnotic. The words we use to describe something create the meaning and therefore our response to whatever we are thinking about. Writers, journalists, directors, and actors really understand the power of words to create different emotional reactions.
Self-hypnosis and a more useful birth narrative
The most powerful and hypnotic stories you’ll ever hear are the ones you repeatedly tell yourself. People often think that self-hypnosis is a special activity you must need to learn to do. What if self-hypnosis is happening all the time when we repeat our inner stories to ourselves over and over.
The famous saying goes – ‘If you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right’. What we expect, we get!
As we update your inner narrative and beliefs about birth and your innate capabilities, positive affirmations are a fantastic tool to support this process. You can think of them as a part of a retraining of the mind. See the separate articles on self-talk and self-hypnosis for more on this.
Birth advertising for the mind – Repetition, repetition, repetition
You can think of these affirmations as advertising for the mind. The more we hear something which connects in someway to our values or emotions, the more it becomes embedded in our minds.
Think of L’Oreal’s, ‘..because you’re worth it’. This is one of the most successful brand strap-lines because it connects to the core of what a women wants to feel. Advertisers know that repetition is key to embedding the idea of trustworthiness or value in people’s minds.
When affirmations don’t work
If we just, try convincing ourselves of something it’s not going to work. If we try to force ourselves to say things to ourselves whilst also thinking ‘I don’t really believe this’, it’s not going to work. This is because your mind is too clever for that. Its job is to maintain a stability in your beliefs to keep you safe and we know when we’re not being sincere.
So, if I say to myself, ‘I’m confident’ over and over but I am saying it quickly, tense in my body and biting my nails at the same time, then I’m not being congruent with what I’m saying. I could repeat that phrase over and over and nothing would change.
If I’m trying to use affirmations whilst reading lots of negative birth stories or repeatedly focusing on my old ideas about birth, it’s also not going to help.
If you don’t use them. If you don’t repeat them and expect to read them once and make a difference then again, affirmations are not a quick fix one off activity.
How to make birth affirmations work for you:
Be curious about the possibilities – when you open the mind to imagine something it start to ‘try on’ the idea’ and makes it easier to accept a new way of being.
Embody the idea – imagine fully believing the statement. How would you be breathing and acting? How would your body feel? How would you stand or sit? If I saw you and you were fully believing this, how would I be able to tell without you telling me verbally? What else would you be believing or able to do if it were true?
Explore these ideas and then pretend or embody for a few moments this way of being. This way, you are creating new neural pathways and creating an unconscious blueprint which aligns with your belief.
Repetition is key. Seeing your affirmations regularly, hearing them and reading them out loud use the principles of advertising to help the ideas become part of the inner narrative.
Positive clear language – Think of advertisers. They use simple, clear statements which easily connect. For affirmations it’s also important to use the present tense, make the statement possible and avoid negation. The mind processes each word so negative word will get processed. To help yourself we want to avoid unnecessary negatives.
- So instead of ‘I won’t panic’ or ‘I’m not scared’ it becomes, “I am calm and relaxed’, ‘I trust my body can do this’
- ‘I won’t feel pain’ – ‘I am stronger than any sensation in my body’
Use birth affirmations as part of a holistic approach which aligns with what you want. This includes practicing self-care, reading uplifting and empowering stories about birth, practicing relaxation and self-hypnosis, and informing yourself about your birth options.
- I breathe down to my baby and let go
- I am in control and safe as I give birth
- My body and baby know what to do
- My body is designed to birth my baby
- I am strong and capable
- I can do this
- I allow my body to open and I let go
- I trust my body and my baby