M is for Mantras
What is a mantra? A mantra could be considered to be something religious, meditative, or spiritual, but a simple definition is that a mantra is a word or phrase repeated over and over. I believe that when a woman chooses a phrase with great meaning or significance to her as a birth mantra, it lends her power and strength throughout her experience.
I'm going to pose a few questions in the following blog post, share a few short anecdotes, and give you a few ideas on how to find the right mantra for you.
How do you choose your mantra?
I was in a prenatal meeting with a client of mine who was a young, single mother. We were discussing birth mantras, and I asked if she knew of a word or phrase that would comfort her during labor. What she said took me by surprise, her mantra was to be "it's going to get worse." She asked me to remind her of this during labor!
A little dumbfounded, I asked her why that would be helpful to her. She said that during labor, she didn't want anyone to predict what was going to happen next, to tell her things were almost over, or that her baby was almost here. She wanted to have a reminder that labor is a mountain to be climbed to the summit, and that there wasn't going to be an easy or quick way through.
She did have a difficult labor, but she still had a wonderful experience and viewed it as a positive birth. I have seen this happen numerous times, where a woman who has by all accounts a negative birth experience but views it as a positive. I believe this is due to feelings of control, of respect, and safety throughout any stressful situation.
What if a phrase doesn't stick out to me?
In another account, a very quiet client of mine didn't have a lot of things to say. She didn't have any requests during labor, she simply wanted to rock back and forth and breathe through her contractions as long as possible. In this situation, I felt that I should hold space for her and her family, and help her birth plan be followed through. So I remained in the background until her labor progressed and noticed her contractions were becoming more intense.
I racked my brain for the words to say, but this particular client didn't want to be engaged in conversation during labor. She didn't want physical comfort measures, or to try different positions. A light bulb went on in my brain and I pulled up this song for her, a song that I remembered her mentioning as a comfort to her during times of stress.
I still vividly remember her immediate physical reaction to hearing the first notes of this song. Her body relaxed completely, the tension just melted away. Her son was born very shortly after this rough transition!
Ever since then I have held a firm belief that birth mantras aren't something you say, they are something you feel. Find what speaks to you, whether it be a bible verse, a little saying, a singular word, or a song.
What about birth affirmation cards?
There are a lot of birth affirmation cards, coloring books, and useful birth focus tools available online. These are all wonderful! The benefits of making the cards yourself is that your individual feelings and thoughts will create the images and will add to your comfort more than something someone else wrote. It will simply be more meaningful and creating them can even be a meditation on the birth process itself. If you're interested, check out this DIY guide to making your own cards!
During active labor, I find that cards aren't as helpful as they are for meditation during pregnancy and in early labor. If you want to use them as a focus object during labor, craft them into a simple banner to be hung up in your birth room! It can be difficult during labor to hold onto them and focus on moving your body the way you need to.
Some more ideas for simple mantras:
I am strong
I am powerful
My baby is coming to me
My body knows what to do
Inhale love, exhale fear
Birth is safe for me
I can do this
I am supported and safe
As a Birth Doula, I help my clients figure out the best way to approach birth and motherhood through prenatal visits and childbirth education, helping them plan the birth experience they are dreaming of. Personalized mantras and meditation can be an incredibly useful part of your birth plan. Get in touch with me to learn more about your birth options in Delmarva!