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The power of positive thinking

Written by: Lane Cotton Winn December 16 2012 At our very first appointment with our midwives, way back at week 7, we were given a packet of handouts that included information about their practice, dietary and health suggestions, possible tests we could opt in or out of, a glossy folder from the hospital they deliver...

Written by: Lane Cotton Winn

At our very first appointment with our midwives, way back at week 7, we were given a packet of handouts that included information about their practice, dietary and health suggestions, possible tests we could opt in or out of, a glossy folder from the hospital they deliver at, and a double-sided handout called “Pregnancy and Birthing Affirmations.” This handout includes 50 short phrases, typed in black Comic Sans font, printed on thin white paper. It’s clearly a homemade handout—one the midwives created themselves. What you may not know about me is that I have an aversion to Comic Sans font. Ever since my first Layout and Design class in college, I have shied away from it. In fact, my church secretary knows to never put it on any church publications. While I usually don’t give Comic Sans-fonted work much of a glance, this handout caught my eye immediately.

It is a reminder of the power of positive thinking. The affirmations sound something like this:
My baby is strong and healthy.
I am at peace with the world.
Birth is a wonderful, safe experience.
I am surrounded by loving, nurturing support.

At our first appointment, we still needed a little reassurance that switching from a traditional OBGYN practice to midwives was the right idea, and this handout played a major role in affirming that decision. As someone who has a strong faith in prayer, these pregnancy and birthing affirmations were right up my alley. The midwives encouraged us to internalize the lines and invited us to make us our own affirmations. HusBen quickly picked up on that idea, and came up with another phrase that he’s handwritten at the bottom of the sheet: “My body is a portal of life.” While it was fun to joke about the phraseology and word choice of some of the lines offered during the drive home together, I also felt empowered by these affirmations, believing that they would be yet another tool to help navigate us on the journey to birth.

Around the start of the second trimester, I began writing some of my favorite affirmations on sticky notes, and posting them around the mirror in our bathroom. I see them several times a day, and enjoy pondering each one as I brush my teeth and wash my face. For some of you, these phrases may sound trite or hokey, but for me, they are grounding. They provide focus and acknowledgement of the miracle happening inside my body.

Fast forward with me to this past Saturday night. In between brushing my teeth and taking out my contacts, I realized something was not right. I was experiencing some bleeding, and after several hours without any change, no amount of pregnancy affirmations were going to stop the flow. After consulting with one of the midwives, we decided to make an emergency trip to Labor and Delivery. One last glance at the mirror to the phrase, “My body knows exactly what to do,” and we were out the door.

I’ll spare you all the details of the hospital visit, and share the good news with you that all is well with my body and our baby. I was placed on bed rest for 48 hours, which unfortunately meant I had to miss church on Sunday morning. For us pastors, this is a tough time of year to miss worship, as we get closer and closer to Christmas. But I survived. The church survived. My body got some much-needed rest, and as the affirmation on my mirror reminds me, “My baby is strong and healthy.”

My dad light-heartedly suggested that Saturday night was our “practice” for the actual birth, in which we responded that it was our practice in what not to do. Hopefully, we will have the amazing experience of going into labor naturally (once the baby is full-term) and delivering with our midwives. During our short trip to the hospital, between the monitoring and shots, I reminded myself that, “I am surrounded by loving, nurturing support.” Once again, husBen confirmed for me through his actions, questions, non-anxious presence, and wisdom that that affirmation is true. We will be ready when the real event comes, and I feel assured, both from my sticky notes and through this experience that “I put all fear aside as I prepare for the birth of my baby.” These lines are no longer aspirations or hopes—but a present reality that offers me comfort in this final trimester.

These affirmations are going to the hospital with me when it’s really time to deliver our baby. I’m still looking for a creative way to take them along with me. Got any ideas? Do you have a mantra that you are reciting as you prepare for labor? Are there visualizations that you will rely on during delivery? What prayer, rally cry, song, or motto will guide you as you birth your baby?