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The Problem with Birth Affirmations | Mother Rising

The Problem with Birth Affirmations | Mother Rising

Gathering knowledge is a part of every woman’s journey to prepare to give birth. However, this gathering of knowledge is not just 100% reading books about pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum.

Birth Affirmations

One way women can prepare for the physical, mental and emotional challenges of birth is by reading birth affirmations in pregnancy and during labor in order to feel encouraged, confident and positive.

I love birth affirmations!

In fact, I made printable birth affirmations which I used for my most recent birth.

(I really feel that these visual affirmations helped me gain confidence before the birth. Even though I taught childbirth classes and was a doula, I was still human. I was definitely daunted by the task at hand!)

A Flaw in Birth Affirmations

However, after years of attending births and teaching childbirth classes I have become aware of a dangerous flaw in birth affirmations.

You see, many (probably most) birth affirmations do not allow for the possibility of the unexpected.

And when women don’t plan for the unexpected, this leads to some very confusing and upsetting mid-birth and postpartum emotions.

Trust Birth

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand where the authors of these birth affirmations are coming from. For example, take one popular phrase in particular “Trust Birth”. How weird would it be if instead they advertised “You can trust birth most of the time.”? Ha! Not quite as affirming and likely not nearly as popular.

“My body knows exactly what to do.”

The thing is, if a woman is holding tight to a particular birth affirmation and whatever it is that she is hoping for does not actually happen, does that mean the inverse of the affirmation is true? For example a quick google search found this phrase, “My body knows exactly what to do”. Sounds harmless, right?

“My body failed me. I am a failure.”

Well, what if for whatever reason this particular woman needed a lot of medical assistance to give birth? This woman is likely to tell herself, “My body failed me.” Or “I am a failure.”

“My baby’s birth will be easy because I am so relaxed.”

Another birth affirmation I found is “My baby’s birth will be easy because I am so relaxed.”  Well, what if her birth wasn’t easy?

“I am weak.”

What if she was tense, especially at the end, and she felt out of control? I have a feeling she will likely beat herself up during her postpartum recovery and tell herself that, “I just didn’t relax correctly. I am weak.”

“It will come to you.”

On one particular birthy site I found this:

“To get the birth – and life – you want, you need to start focusing on what you want. Let go of your fears, doubts, and pessimistic thinking. And embrace what you want. Focus on it to the exclusion of all else. And guess what? It will come to you.”

A Disservice

When it comes to birth, this sort of thinking (100% of the time) is a disservice to childbearing women.

So what are we to do? Shall we delete the internet of the non-helpful birth affirmations?

Should we boycott the Trust Birth Initiative?

Probably not.

After years of attending births and teaching childbirth classes I have become aware of a dangerous flaw in birth affirmations.

Better Teaching

What if we started teaching women about all the aspects of birth?

What if we taught that it’s impossible to think a particular birth outcome into being? That you can absolutely influence your birth, make great informed decisions, increase your chances of a particular birth, but in the end you cannot control everything.

What if we taught women to navigate

the unexpected

I guarantee that something unexpected will come up at your birth. It might be minor, like having your water break at 4 am, or it might be a bit more serious, like needing to augment your labor because contractions haven’t started labor after a period of time. Some aspect of your birth will be unexpected and not go according to plan.

the unknown

Something unknown, something you’ve never done before, “knocks on the door” of every birth. At the birth of my third child I navigated transferring from home to the hospital and asking for a pitocin augmentation. I had no clue what the outcome would be. When I walked through the doors of the hospital I thought to myself, “What have I got myself into?”. I stepped into the unknown.

losing control

Many women work their entire pregnancies in hopes that during birth (no matter what method of birthing they choose or is chose for them) they WILL NOT LOSE CONTROL. Don’t get me wrong, some control at birth is extremely helpful. For example control in the breath and with relaxation are all helpful in regards to pain coping. It’s helpful to know your care provider ahead of time and have people you know and trust at your birth. On the other hand, there is an element of letting go or surrender that is extremely difficult, and yet an integral part of every birth. I call this “the dark place”. In order to have your baby, we need to let go, lose control and “go to the dark place”.

Positive Birth Affirmations: Get a Makeover!

Embracing the unexpected, the unknown and losing control is part of birth and therefore should be part of prenatal preparation.

Embracing the unexpected, the unknown and losing control is part of birth and therefore should be part of birth affirmations.

We need to be mindful of what we say to ourselves so that come postpartum, after we give birth and are holding our sweet babies, those things we repeated over and over during pregnancy and birth don’t come back to haunt us, telling us we were weak and failed.

That our best wasn’t good enough.

We need to speak compassionately to ourselves, recognizing the whole spectrum of what we went though and experienced.

Give Yourself a Gift

During pregnancy, give a gift to your future mother-self.

Give her the gift of  positive birth affirmations that leave her feeling loved, accepted and knowing she did her best, her very best, on that day, in that moment, on her journey to meet her baby.

You were amazing. And it was enough.

“I was amazing.”

“I gave it my all.”

“And it was enough.”

Let’s be mindful of what we say to ourselves so that come postpartum, after we give birth and are holding our sweet babies, those things we repeated over and over during pregnancy and birth don’t come back to haunt us, telling us we were weak and failed… that our best wasn’t good enough.

Let’s speak compassionately to ourselves, recognizing the whole spectrum of what we went though and experienced.

During pregnancy, give a gift to your future mother-self by using Mother Rising’s Positive Birth Affirmations.

Print these simple, yet powerful, affirmations in the comfort of your own home, local photo shop or at an office supply store.

These 12 gorgeous birth affirmations will serve you well as your pregnancy comes to an end and you prepare for labor.

Head on over to Etsy to check them out. You will LOVE them!

Talk to you soon,

Lindsey

PS – I’ve also made gorgeous, printable bible verses for birth to purchase over at Etsy. They’re even more popular than my regular birth affirmations. Check them out!

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Susi

Monday 2nd of September 2019

I totally agree with you. I experienced the birth story with total affirmation without preparing for the unexpected. I was too convinced of what would happened as the result of my affirmation. I was in shock when unexpected things happened during labor. I ended up feeling beat up and had PPD. The keywords here which are important: letting go and surrender. I am doing my best for my second pregnancy now due in 2 months.

Suzzie Vehrs

Saturday 13th of April 2019

I've had two births. My first one was very traumatic, c section. My second was a very healing VBAC. Though I felt broken after the first, looking back, I think its really when I was the strongest. I had no support and yet kept going. The healing process was long but worth it.

Birth affirmations did play a huge rple in helping me feel courage to do it agaim when it was so hsrd the first time. Thank you for sharing this side of things. I'm going to share it with my community.

These affirmations also meant a lot to me. https://moregigglingmoments.com/2019/03/02/100-birth-affirmations-that-will-remind-you-you-are-a-birthing-queen/amp/

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