I recently described the birth altar that I created before my last birth. Some of the elements included on the altar came from quotes from a page-a-day calendar from a $1 Shop and some were parts of a t-shirt tag from the tag on a shirt I purchased from WYSH at an LLL conference in 2009 (why keep a t-shirt tag from 2009, you might ask? Because it had lots of cool things written on it! And, behold, it became a source of birth altar wisdom for me. Wisdom lurks in unexpected places!)
I am struck by how these words from unconventional locations apply so perfectly to giving birth. Here’s what the little cards and snippets I included on my birth altar say:
From the calendar:
- Inhale * Exhale * Relax * Repeat
- LOVE the process.
- Embrace peace within.
- Keep it simple.
And, as an excellent reminder for birth and life in general:
From the t-shirt tag:
- Befriend fear, embrace struggle, trust nature, the process, and a baby’s wisdom (I swear, this shirt had NOTHING to do with giving birth!)
- We don’t tell our flowers how to grow, to stay low or bloom before they’re ready.
- Undivide your attention. All clear.
- Lead with your spirit, rise above the noise, show the world your true self.
Also from the tag were individual words that I included: freedom. trust. inspiration. respect. authenticity. empowerment.
Finally, I included the following from a tag on a pendant given to me by my husband:
May the Love we’re
sharing spread its Wings
and fly across the Earth
and bring new Joy to
every Soul on the Planet.
Words have always been a powerful source of inspiration to me. They’re my “medium.” During my second pregnancy, I was having a conversation with two midwives and one of them asked me what my primary “craft” was. I said, “I don’t really have one, I guess,” and my midwife said, “yes, you do. It is words.” That was a powerful affirmation for me. During my first birth, I hummed the song we use during our women’s circles and mother blessing ceremonies over and over again:
Woman am I
Spirit am I
I am the infinite within my soul
I have no beginning
and I have no end
All this I am
During my second son’s birth I talked to myself the whole time, coaching myself through a rapid train-ride of a labor: You’re okay, it’s okay, you’re okay, it’s okay.
During my third birth (second trimester miscarriage at home), I used the Woman Am I chant again to get myself through a scary trip to the emergency room.
And, one of my most potent memories of my last child’s birth was crying out after she was born, You’re alive, you’re alive! I did it! There’s nothing wrong with me! It took me a long time to be able to tell or write about that experience without crying.
What are your favorite ways to use words during pregnancy or birthing?
I often suggest that couples in my birth workshops practice affirmations as a positive word-based coping tool for labor. I have some suggested birth affirmations specifically for fathers as well as a handout of birthing affirmations available to them and I encourage them to draw on their own favorite affirmations, prayers, religious readings, or mantras as a helpful focusing point during the intensity of birth.
Adapted from a prior post: