Preparing to deliver a baby is one of the most vulnerable times of a woman's life. Regardless of whether it's your first or tenth time, there is something frightening about not knowing exactly how it's going to go. This unknown can be anxiety-inducing, but it doesn't have to be. With the right preparation, every woman can go into labor feeling strong and positive. Doulas are known for being valuable sources of support, and if you know how to write a pre-labor pep talk with your doula, you can feel completely capable.
Katelyn Davis, birth doula and women's health coach in the San Francisco Bay area, tells Romper she prefers to think of the words more as affirmations than a pep talk. Regardless of what you call it, Davis says "As a a doula, I truly believe in the powerful connection between a woman’s mind and body, especially during labor and birth. I recommend my clients find birth affirmations that resonate with them."
If you're not sure where to start, Davis says in her and her partner's combined 20 years of practice, they have found a few phrases to which their clients are most drawn. Things like, “my body was made for this,” “this isn’t too much for me, because it is me,” “I trust what my body is doing,” or “I trust in my ability to birth my baby,” can really help women throughout labor and birth.
Judith Nowlin, CEO of iBirth with a decade of experience as a doula and health educator, tells Romper that she recommends breaking the pep talk down into three segments: "I am" statements, "I can" statements, and "I desire" statements.
According to Nowlin, "I am" statements describe what you know about yourself and the strengths you bring to your labor. Examples that she offers include: "I am a strong woman," "I am a loving mother," "I am very capable of doing hard things," and "I am compassionate with myself."
Similarly, "I can" statements remind you of all your options when the going gets tough (because it can be hard to see any options in the heat of the moment). Nowlin's examples of these? "I can ask for what I need." "I can ask questions when I don't understand what's going on." "I can participate as a decision maker on my care team."
And last but not least are the "I desire" statements, which express your wishes for how your labor will go and, specifically, for the kind of care you receive. Nowlin says some women's "I desire" statements might be, "I desire soft voices and low lights," "I desire my partner in the room with me as much as possible," and "I desire a loving hand to hold." But it can be anything, and will vary from woman to woman.
However you decide to word your pep talk (or affirmations, if you'd rather) with your birth doula, you'll be glad you did. The more prepared you are for the kind of labor and delivery you want, the more confident you will feel. You are strong and capable of giving birth, and you deserve someone to tell you so.