What does Andy Murray (tennis world number one) and a Hypnobirthing mum have in common?
They both use scientifically proven psychological techniques to help their bodies function most effectively.
A professional athlete and a Hypnobirthing mother are not so very different. Both prepare for an event where they will be using their bodies fully. Both recognise that their frame of mind will directly affect how their bodies work. For each, confidence and positive beliefs improve their experience.
There are limits to this athlete analogy. After all, sports men and women are often interested in explosive or tense muscular movements. A Hypnobirthing mother, on the other hand, is practising to be relaxed and to calmly breathe through her body's surges.
The important point (and one you may like to share with a sceptical partner or friend) is that it has been scientifically shown that our state of mind affects our physical performance. If not, then why do almost all professional athletes employ sports psychologists?
Why positive birthing affirmations are important
Research has shown that around 80% of our 'self talk' is negative. Values and beliefs are imprinted on us from an early age. Whether positive or negative our beliefs and assumptions tend to be expressed as affirming statements in our head. And when it comes to birth, many women have fears and negative beliefs and assumptions. Perhaps these stem from inaccurate stereotypes on TV and film or women sharing birthing 'war stories'. Either way, they are neither necessary nor helpful.
We all know that fear, stress and anxiety don't help us when we want to do something (other than fight or flight). So, instead, how about we replace fear with calm, anxiety with enthusiasm?
"My body is designed to birth efficiently and easily."
Listening to or repeating positive birth statements is very simple and yet profoundly effective. They have the power to transform your beliefs and assumptions, instilling a sense of confidence and calm as you approach your baby's beautiful birth.
Whilst our brains are very clever, they also have limits. They can only consciously hold on to a few pieces of information at a time. If you repeat your positive affirmations, they will soon be consciously remembered. They will literally squeeze out the negative thoughts, leaving your head pleasantly full of positive beliefs about birth.
As you go into labour with calm and confidence, your body will respond and your uterus (a wonderful and incredible muscle) will do its thing; that is, birth your baby in the quickest and easiest way possible.
5 Top Tips for Positive Birthing Affirmations
1. Find some good affirmations
First off, find yourself a list of positive birthing affirmations that you like.
2. Make them your own
Pick out the statements that you like the most. If you're not feeling one, leave it out. Add or tweak any so that they are "more you".
3. Go wild putting them everywhere
Just how wild is up to you. Write them out and stick them up in places you'll see them often. This might be your bathroom mirror, the fridge, on light switches... anywhere! Get creative.
4. Create routine and ritual
Whether it's applying stretch mark cream, doing perineal massage or taking your vitamins, pregnancy is a time when you may find yourself adding new rituals into your day. Affirmations can be an easy and fun part of your routine. The aim is to create a habit where you are reading, listening or repeating your statements regularly.
Here are a few suggestions:
Every time you stop at a red light make a positive statement out loud;
Each time you open the fridge read out a carefully placed affirmation; and
Take a photo of one and make it your mobile screensaver - each time you pick up your phone you'll read it.
5. Mix them up
There are a lot of good affirmations out there. Don't get overwhelmed. Start with a few, say ten, then after a week or two switch them up for another ten. This way they stay fresh and engage your mind.
As you habitually affirm the powerful capabilities of your body and the beauty and effectiveness of the natural birthing process, you'll find that you begin to feel more confident, calm and enthusiastic about it. And, what’s more, positivity is infectious - you may just find that it spills into your everyday life.
Neve is a Hypnobirthing mamma who used the techniques to birth two beautiful children. When she’s not evangalising about the wonders of Hypnobirthing, she blogs at WeTheParents.org where she seeks to bring out the humour in parenting and gets nerdy researching and reviewing the gear that mums and dads (apparently) need.
She'd love to hear from you on Twitter or Facebook.