Working as a full-spectrum doula, my role is to provide non-medical support to people through labor, birth, and beyond.
Birth is one of the most intense experiences any human may go through, and at times it can feel like you’re cracking open – because essentially you are.
The role of a doula is to help support birthing people on this journey physically, mentally, and emotionally. In order to do this, I pull from my bottomless bag of tricks, and adapt depending on my clients’ needs at any given moment.
One of the tools I find myself going back to again and again is a verbal affirmation or encouraging self-affirmation through labor mantras.
Often used in techniques like hypnobirthing, a mantra is a word or phrase that you say to yourself repeatedly, as a way of coming back to the center. Mantras during labor give birthing people a way of grounding themselves, finding empowerment and strength, and gives them something to grab onto when riding the intense waves of contractions.
While labor mantras can and do, come about spontaneously during labor, it can be helpful to plan them out ahead of time and integrate them into your birth plan.
There are many ways you can do this, the first step is to brainstorm what mantras you think may be helpful to hear during labor – we’ll give you some ideas later in this article.
You can write these down ahead of time, and discuss them with your support team – partner, doula, midwife, etc., so that they can remind you of them when labor becomes more intense.
There are plenty of awesome birth affirmation card decks out there that you can use as you prepare for labor. Depending on where you’re laboring, you can set your birth space by decorating it with bought or homemade birth mantra cards. Even if you’re not saying the mantras to yourself in the heat of the moment, the energy of these phrases is present in the room.
Another way to plan ahead using your birth affirmations is by making a recording of yourself saying them. I’ve heard all sorts of background noise in the births that I’ve attended.
From hip-hop to nature sounds, to home decorating shows, so why not have the option of listening to your own voice?! If you have any musical know-how, you can record and make your own songs using your birth mantras.
Even if you never listen to it during labor, it’s a fun way for you and your partner to prepare for birth together or by yourself.
No matter what tools you choose to utilize your birth mantras, planning ahead is helpful in the sense that it lets you build a relationship with these phrases.
If you try using these mantras towards the end of your pregnancy, it gives them time to embed themselves in your thoughts and body. Just like any relationship, when these mantras feel familiar, they have a sort of rapport to them. Words are powerful!
Keep it Flexible
While planning ahead is important in all aspects of pregnancy, birth is unpredictable, and it’s important to leave room for flexibility.
You may need to adapt your mantras depending on how your birth progresses. It can be helpful to have different affirmations on stand-by in case your birth deviates from your intended plan.
Different birth mantras may naturally come and go depending on where you’re at in labor.
As you progress, and the sensations intensify, you may drop the words altogether and fall into a rhythmic pattern of sounds, moans, and groans. Awesome! If it helps to continue to hear these mantras, even when speech is eluding you, your birth team can repeat them, or your recording can keep them playing for you.
It’s also totally ok to tell your birth team to stop at any point in time, you by no means have to stick with something that isn’t helping or is irritating you.
Mantras and Affirmations
If you’re liking what you’re hearing, it may be time to brainstorm some mantras of your own! Here are some ideas to get started – helpful tip – keep it short and sweet.
- My baby is coming. They are. Even if it feels like there’s no end in sight!
- My body, my baby, my choice. You have autonomy over your body and the care that is provided for you.
- I have the strength of my ancestors. Remember that every person who has come before you has gone through this, and their strength runs through your blood.
- I have everything I need inside me. You do. Although it’s great if you need outside support in any way as well.
- I trust the wisdom of my body. Remember this.
- I am in good hands. How supported do you feel by your medical providers?
- My breath will carry me through. Breathing. One of the most powerful reminders in birth. If this is too wordy, you can also just use…
- Breathe. Simple as that.
This is a friendly reminder that birth affirmations and mantras are for everyone no matter what your pregnancy and birth story looks like!
Natasha (she/they) is a full spectrum doula, reproductive health content creator, and sexual wellness consultant. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more pleasure, softness, and sensuality. You can connect with Natasha on IG @spectrumoflovedoula.