The phrase “positive affirmations” may conjure up images of self help books and overpriced life coach gurus, but this practice actually has science to back it up. If you think about it…we eat a great diet, we take the best prenatal, we even do special exercises to prepare our bodies for birth. But what about preparing our mind and spirit?
That’s where positive affirmations come in. They’re easy to do, but they have to be done a certain way for them to actually be effective. Read on to learn more about what pregnancy affirmations are and how you can harness their power during your natural childbirth.
What are affirmations and how can they help during pregnancy and childbirth?
Positive affirmations are specific statements that help you overcome negative thoughts and create new pathways in the brain for positive mental, emotional, and physical changes.
Your thoughts can create your reality. And your thoughts can help you create an awesome, unmedicated birth!
Just like you need to exercise to keep your body strong and healthy, you need to train your mind to have the birth you desire.
Pregnancy quotes need to be said out loud or written down, and they’re repeated consistently.
Dads can get in on pregnancy affirmations too!
Birth affirmations aren’t just for mamas. Positive affirmations like “I have energy to support my wife during her pregnancy” or “I’m full of love for my partner and baby” are helpful to prepare papa for his birth role.
Plus, papa can read mama her birth affirmations.
Why do affirmations work?
Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself both physically and functionally when triggered by thoughts, emotions, actions, and environment. This term has become a buzzword recently, but the concept is far from new. Mentions of a malleable brain can be found as far back as the 1800s.
When pregnancy affirmations are properly used, our brains change for the better and it positively affects our thoughts, feelings and actions.
Think of it this way. When you repeat the same thoughts in your head, positive or negative, you start to believe them and your brain forms a pathway of neurons. There is a popular saying: Your words become your world.
It is possible to replace negative brain pathways with positive ones through the simple exercise of birth affirmations. The more you travel the path, the more likely your brain is to travel down the path in future circumstances (source).
How to get pregnancy affirmations to work
In order for birth affirmations to work, you need to keep a few things in mind:
Believe what you’re saying
When you have a negative thought or fear, recognize it and deal with it first. This study found that participants with low self-esteem who repeated the phrase “I am lovable” actually had more negative emotions and still didn’t feel lovable because they didn’t really believe what they were saying.
Try to get to the root of your fears or negativity. Fill your mind with positive birth stories and surround yourself with other positive influences. Some moms find that reading Scripture or religious prayers can be very powerful.
Keep in mind that sometimes we have to keep saying affirmations over and over again until we do believe it, which brings me to my next point.
Repeat, repeat, repeat!
We’re constantly bombarded with negative childbirth images through the media and even from friends and family.
Any negative perceptions we have about birth have been ingrained into our brains, usually for decades. It takes time to reverse these negative trends and forge new, positive pathways!
It’s important to constantly and consistently repeat your positive pregnancy affirmations. Place them on your bathroom mirror, your kitchen fridge, your bedroom, or wherever you’re most likely to see them multiple times a day.
You can also listen to positive birth affirmation recordings in your car or as you go to sleep at night.
Leave the past behind you
Affirmations work best when spoken in the future tense. So you’d say “I will be calm and present” instead of “I am calm and present.” The wording differences are subtle, but the effect is drastic.
In this study, the group that thought about scenarios in the future context showed more brain activity in the areas that are associated with thinking about self. By focusing on the future, they helped reinforce the brain activation patterns associated with self-affirmation.
Future thinking has another important benefit though. Certain messages can feel like a threat and our brains shut off when we hear them. We can then respond badly, either physically or emotionally.
You may be trying to tell yourself that your body can do this, but past preconceptions may be fighting back, resisting brain changes.
However, in the same study, when future-oriented thinking was used, the desired behavior was more likely to occur in the weeks following the study. The reward centers in the study participants’ brains were activated so that they saw a positive reason to meet their goals.
Note that even present tense statements perform better than past tense ones.
Use only positive imagery
If you’re fearful about birth, then you may be inclined to say something like “I will not have fear or worry that everything is going to go wrong.”
Don’t do that. Why?
If I tell you to NOT think about a purple elephant, then what are you going to think about? A purple elephant.
By using negative imagery or words in birth affirmations, our brains are still reverting to the exact negative emotional pathways that we’re trying to stop using!
So make sure that all of the words used in your birth statements are positive.
A better example than the one above could be something like: “I have peace and confidence that my body will perfectly do what it’s designed to do.”
Engage your senses
Just looking at positive pregnancy quotes won’t really cement them in your brain. To be truly effective, they need to be said out loud.
You can also write your affirmations out by hand as you recite them, further engaging the senses. And of course, you can listen to audio childbirth affirmations.
The more senses you engage and the more you focus on the words, the more effective the pregnancy affirmations will be.
Finding the best pregnancy affirmations
Google “pregnancy quotes” and you’ll get a ton of results. However, some are better than others and certain ones may not fit well with your preferences. You’re also likely to find birth affirmations that still include negative wording. Some may seem so outlandish that you can’t quite convince your brain to believe it, which in turn makes them ineffective.
We’ve made finding great pregnancy affirmations easy by offering an oversized deck of natural pregnancy affirmation cards.
This is a gorgeous deck of natural pregnancy affirmation cards with 50 inspirational pregnancy quotes and illustrations. You can easily pick a card every day and feel an instant calm and peacefulness with the cards’ messages.
Click here to check out our natural pregnancy affirmation cards.
Audio affirmation recordings
I highly recommend saying, seeing, and hearing birth affirmations. This way you’re flooding all of your senses with these positive messages.
You can listen to digital affirmation recordings on the go so that they’re always readily available. The background music helps stimulate your brain and complements the effects of the birth affirmations read aloud. It also helps train your mind and mentally prepares you for childbirth.
If you’re like me and feel inspired and encouraged from Scripture, there are also pregnancy affirmations that draw from the Bible.
We offer Natural Childbirth Affirmation Recordings that provide both secular and scriptural affirmation soundtracks.
Did you use pregnancy affirmations?
Are you using them now? Did you use positive affirmations during a previous pregnancy? How did they work for you? Share in the comments below!