Creating a Positive Birth Mindset with Affirmations
Affirmations are one of my favourite ‘hypnobirthing tools’. They are super straightforward, completely free and can have a really powerful effect on your subconscious. The subconscious is the part of our brain which stores everything it thinks might be important and uses that to keep us safe.
Think of affirmations as simply cheerleading for yourself – sounds a lot less woo-woo! They can be statements that you say out loud, or that you listen to, read or write or a combination of these things.
So how do they work? Affirmations work because of something called Hebb’s Law. This is the law of repetition; put simply ‘what fires together, wires together’. The more we force ourselves to think something (i.e. by repeating a phrase) the more ingrained it becomes in our mind until eventually this way of thinking becomes habitual. Affirmations essentially train your brain to think positively.
Choosing to write your own affirmations can turbo charge their effectiveness as you use lots of parts of the brain at the one time. You think of the statement, use your hand to write it, then you see it written down and as you speak it aloud you also hear it – all these different centres in the brain all firing together. As you learn about the process of labour & birth, you may find that specific concerns or priorities crop up. Make a note of these as they come to you and you can then use these notes to create affirmations to help you work through any fears and to build a more positive belief system.
The area of the brain involved with affirmations is called the Reticular Activating system. This is the link between the conscious mind and the belief system embedded in your subconscious. The R.A.S. is the reason that you often don’t notice things in day-to-day life until they are relevant to you. For instance; it gives reasoning as to why you began to see pregnant people and babies everywhere once you became pregnant, when actually it’s just that your brain didn’t think it was worth noticing before when it wasn’t currently relevant.
When we continually repeat messages to our brains by thinking thoughts, it registers as ‘Okay, this is important’ and uses that information to start paying attention to things in life that relate to this. Often when someone is fearful of birth, they will see cues for this fear everywhere. What we want to use affirmations for is to tell our brains that birth can be a safe & positive experience so that they start to look for more positive birth cues.
“Beliefs are not set in stone or finite. They can be acquired, recognised & released. They can be planted, nurtured & strengthened, and by doing so empower us to thrive & flourish.”
This is the core of my hypnobirthing work; to focus on breaking the cycle of negativity and to believe that birth can be a safe, positive, empowering & life affirming experience. That it can be an exciting event, something to look forward to and celebrate – and I mean celebrate the birth, not just the baby!
When we believe that we are safe, we are far more likely to enter birth feeling calm & in control as well as being far more likely to feel positively about the experience afterwards. Affirmations are an incredible way of planting new beliefs, as well as nurturing & strengthening existing ones and they may also help you to let go of beliefs that do not serve your intention for birth.
Some of my favourite affirmations, which can be used for any pregnancy or birth are:
I look forward to telling my birth story.
Birth is powerful, and so am I.
My body & baby are working together.
You can listen to blog author Claire Smith from the Birthing Parents Club ‘Affirmations for anxiety relaxation’ track here.