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Giving birth can be tough — whether you go through labor naturally, have a C-section, or are induced. It can be physically taxing and emotionally exhausting.

The process may be long and difficult and, well, a lot of work. It’s not surprisingly that labor and delivery can take a mental toll.

After all, your life is changing in a sudden and very real way. But despite the challenges, your experience doesn’t have to be a negative one.

It’s not all screaming, sweating, shaking, and cursing. In fact, with the right tools and frame of mind, birth can be an empowering experience.

“Positive statements relating to the birth process can give confidence and comfort [to the expectant parent],” Sarah Ludwig, a doula and childbirth educator, explains.

But what are these statements? From what they are to how to use them, here are answers to all your questions about birth affirmations.

The purpose of affirmations is actually quite simple: Birth affirmations are sayings or statements designed to change your mindset and help you maintain a positive outlook or mood regarding the birth process.

“Affirmations [in general] are short statements that are created to achieve a desired mindset,” according to Vanessa Hawke, a certified labor doula and childbirth educator. “They are usually short in length. Easy to remember, and are designed so that the person giving birth can repeat it before and during labor… to alleviate fear, to increase their sense of confidence in their body’s abilities, and/or to maintain a sense of calm.”

Of course, the notion that saying something — and believing it — works may seem heady and strange; however, the effectiveness of affirmations is actually backed by science.

In fact, one study, published in 2016, suggests that affirmations work because of neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to change and adapt throughout life.

That said, while birth affirmations can stand on their own, they don’t have to. Some forms of pain management, like hypnobirthing, utilize similar mantras, sayings, and affirmations along with other techniques.

Hyponobirthers may practice controlled breathing, guided visualizations, and focus on positive thoughts and words. However, affirmations can be used regardless of your birthing plan.

While there are many ways you can incorporate affirmations into your birthing plan, Ludwig believes the best way is to write them down.

“Some of my clients create posters or banners to serve as visual reminders in the hospital room,” Ludwig explains. “Some have a journal full of affirmations — so they can read them during contractions like a mantra — and for clients who are centered in faith, affirmation can be like a prayer.”

The point isn’t what you say or how you say it. What matters is that you choose an approach that resonates with you.

Keep in mind that affirmations shouldn’t focus only on the birth you want to have, but on your ability to manage — no matter where the process takes you.

“The same phrases don’t work for everyone,” Ludwig adds. “Select phrases that are calming and empowering.”

The most powerful — and effective — birth affirmations are ones that empower you and rewrite the script in your subconscious mind.

For example, “I can’t do this” becomes “I am strong. I am capable. Yes, I can.”

Below are 20 positive, persuasive, and meaningful mantras you can recite during labor and delivery:

  • I trust my instincts.
  • I am present. I am doing this. We are doing this.
  • I trust my body to know what to do.
  • I feel confident. I feel safe. I feel secure.
  • Each surge of my body brings my baby closer to me.
  • I am surrounded by love and support.
  • I am prepared to meet whatever turns my birthing takes.
  • I relax and my baby relaxes with me.
  • I breathe deeply and I am calm.
  • The same love and desire I feel toward life I feel toward my baby’s birth.
  • My baby trusts me, and I trust this process.
  • I have great trust in myself and my capabilities.
  • I am relaxed and happy that my baby is finally coming.
  • Birth is powerful. I will let it empower me.
  • I am fierce but flexible.
  • I am strong and capable.
  • I can’t stop the waves, but I can learn to surf.
  • I feel good and I am beautiful, inside and out.
  • Waiting for the birth of my baby is an experience of serene joy.
  • With each deep breath, I feel better and better.

While affirmations aren’t for everyone, you can integrate these sayings into any birthing plan if you’d like.

They can be uttered between contractions and can be used regardless of whether you have medical interventions or use other forms of pain relief.

Plus, affirmations will help you take a moment to just be and breathe. To listen to your body and connect with your baby.

So read these mantras. Recite these mantras. And remember: No matter what happens, you’ve got this, mama. You’re prepared for whatever turns birthing takes.