#39 | HypnoBirthing Mini: How and Why Affirmations Work

July 27, 2020

Hi everyone! We're back today with another HypnoBirthing mini. Regardless of whether you have taken - or plan to take - a HypnoBirthing class before giving birth, we're going to talk about one of the tools in the program that's application to all of us: Affirmations. How do they work? What do they have to do with your belief system? And how can you use them toward preparing your most important birthing organ? (Hint: It's not your uterus.) Tune in to get the inside scoop on how the human brains works, and how this little-understood powerhouse of ours can become our greatest asset - or obstacle - when it comes to achieving your ideal birth or any goal at all.

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If you enjoyed this episode of the Down To Birth Show, please share with your pregnant and postpartum friends.

Between episodes, connect with us on Instagram @DownToBirthShow to see behind-the-scenes production clips and join the conversation by responding to our questions and polls related to pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood. You can reach us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com or call (802) 438-3696 (802-GET-DOWN). We are always happy to hear from our listeners and appreciate questions for our monthly Q&A episodes. To join our monthly newsletter, text "downtobirth" to 22828.

You can sign up for Cynthia's HypnoBirthing classes as well as online breastfeeding classes and weekly postpartum support groups run by Cynthia & Trisha at HypnoBirthing of Connecticut

Please remember we don’t provide medical advice, and to speak with your licensed medical provider related to all your healthcare matters. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation, and see you next week!

View Episode Transcript

Hello, everyone, it's Cynthia and this is going to be a HypnoBirthing Mini today, I received an email from one of the women in my current zoom class where I have 16 couples taking HypnoBirthing. And she asked me some really good and common questions related to the HypnoBirthing materials. And regardless of whether you're taking a HypnoBirthing class now, whether you have in the past, whether you ever do, I think there's some really good information that is valuable to really all of us because how to use the materials has to do with how our brain works. So it's just really good everyday information that you know, even helps in parenting. So let's get into that. Now. In HypnoBirthing, couples receive an audio and in that audio, they have two tracks. One of them is called affirmations and the other one is called rainbow relaxation, which is a self hypnosis audio. Let's talk a little bit about the affirmations, affirmations and it's not something Most of us grew up hearing about, especially if we've grown up in the Western world, we take the conscious mind very seriously. We respect the conscious mind very much here in the Western world. But we like to ignore the subconscious mind. Like, I don't know, if you have some kind of interesting dream, or let's say you have a dream where like, You're crying, or you're yelling at someone you love, or you're have all these emotions in a dream. If you share that dream with someone close to you, they usually just chalk it off like, wow, weird, you know, just whatever. And they, they don't really want to explore that. But your subconscious mind is representing 95% of your brain. And if you're having a dream, and I'm getting sidetracked here, but I love dreams, and I find all of this very fascinating. When you have any dream, the most important thing you can ask yourself in the morning is what did I feel in that dream? The details aren't important. The things you hear about dreams are like, you know, they say oh, if you dream about money, it means this. If you dream about bugs, it means this if you dream about broken glass, it means that I don't believe any of that. What matters in dreams is what emotion you're feeling. And then the rest are just the details that your your subconscious mind puts out if they make a creative story around the emotions that you're processing. So if you're feeling some intense emotion in that dream, pay attention to it, say, Gosh, I must be feeling really angry about this or maybe in that dream, I felt betrayed or in this dream, I felt isolated or maybe you have, you know, a happy dream another night and that's just something you can feel feel good about. But our subconscious mind is so important. It is where all beliefs are stored. It is where all learning happens is where all emotions are housed, everything like it's all going on in the subconscious mind.

The conscious mind that 5% of our brain and the prefrontal cortex represents the part of our mind that allows us as human beings to plan for the future to reconsider the past to weigh pros and cons. This is really valuable as well. We think it's what makes us quote intelligent above all the other animals. I don't personally agree with that. It's just unique about us, we have this mind that allows us to think about the future and think about the past. And frankly, it's the conscious mind that really gets in the way when it comes to a natural activity like childbirth or you know, having sex or anything else. That's a completely natural, instinctual process. So now let's talk about the HypnoBirthing materials when it comes to affirmations.
Affirmations ideally should be in the present tense because if you create an affirmation like, you know, I will pass the bar exam or I will do well in this job or I will have a happy, healthy relationship, or I will have a calm birth. It's always just out of reach. Even though it feels a little bit uncomfortable, a little awkward, a little funny. You want affirmations to be in the present tense Give birth easily. I see my baby coming through me and into my arms. I trust myself. So do you feel that difference? I trust myself versus I will trust myself. I trust myself, it's of you now it is a part of you now. And that is the message that then is always in your present. It's always in your, your psyche. I trust myself. I make good decisions. That's it.

So as I said, in the Western world, most of us don't grow up hearing from our parents, the importance of affirmations, but self talk affirmations, it's all the same thing. What is your self talk? What are you saying to yourself, right? If you have a stressful moment, can you say to yourself, I'm handling this? I know what I'm doing. I'm getting through this.

Everything is okay. Whether or not you agree with it or believe it isn't the point because we start with the statement. So if you receive an affirmation in HypnoBirthing, I pass around A little, a little crystal bowl and everyone pulls out a an affirmation at the end that they get to keep for the week. If you get one that says, I give birth easily, we don't then want to cocked her head and think do I agree with that? Do I give birth easily? Do I really? Can I take that in? We don't do that. We don't evaluate affirmations. We don't judge them.

We don't do any of that. We presume it is already what we believe. We simply state them. So you say it like you mean it when I tell everyone in class say your name go around the room. Read your affirmation I just say say like you mean it just say like one of them is pregnancy becomes me. I look well and I feel great.

Can you say that as if you mean it? Can you just say that pregnancy becomes me I look well, and I feel great. You don't need to add it with Well, if all this morning sickness goes away, or Well, I can't say I feel like I look right. Don't do that. Just say it. just own it. Let it become what you are because it's never about whether affirmations are true or false. It's never about whether they are good or bad. It is simply about whether it serves you. That's it. So you can reject an affirmation if it doesn't serve you. But if you know it's serving you, that's it, you claim it, you own it, you make it yours. So back to my clients question, how do you use the affirmations in HypnoBirthing? Because on that audio that everyone receives, there is a track of running affirmations. You can just play this out. When you're going about your business in your home when you're getting ready after you take a shower in the morning or when you're getting ready for bed at night. While you're folding some laundry or doing some dishes, just let them play out in the background because whether or not you're aware of it, messages about childbirth have been playing out in the background of your whole life. You've been hearing messages about childbirth, probably since you were two or three years old. Whether a woman was telling her birth story and talking about how difficult it was or how grim It was or even how beautiful it was, or how Yes, it's really hard, but you forget everything later or you turn on the television and someone is in labor and it's comedic or it's traumatic. This forms an impression in our mind and whether or not you are aware of it, you have deep beliefs around childbirth, whether or not your partner is aware of it. Your partner has deep beliefs around childbirth. So here's my question. Are those beliefs serving you? Are those beliefs serving your partner as the person who's going to support you? Frankly, your obstetrician or your midwife has beliefs about childbirth, right? Like, what if your obstetrician has a belief that, oh, this woman needs me I need to get this baby out.

They will handle their work differently.

From the obstetrician or midwife who says I'm in this field because it's beautiful to me. I'm in this field because I'm so inspired by what women's bodies do. One of my Couples shared with me several months ago that they were at a premium visit together.

And the husband asked the obstetrician a female doctor. So what made you want to become an obstetrician? And her response was, I've always wanted to be a surgeon. Like Holy cow, she right there in front of them said she always wanted to be a surgeon. So, again, this is not about the doctor being wrong, or the doctor being bad. This is simply representative of the doctors belief system. And in her belief system, surgery is a defining component of being an obstetrician like a defining component, not just a part of it. But it's what it's all about. It's almost like, I don't know, it's like if you're an attorney, and you say you're an attorney, because you could say because you love law, or you could say because I love strife. I mean, I love to be in the middle of a good argument, right? I mean, so you get a little window into that doctors belief system. And how do you feel about that? Well, it I'll just finish that little anecdote and tell you the couple did end up leaving that doctor because they recognized that the doctor was showing up with her own belief system with surgery at the top of mind. And that doctor is right for somebody. But it was she wasn't right for this couple. So it's all good, fine. So what I'm saying is, we have affirmations and HypnoBirthing because we want to replace whatever your old beliefs are with these new beliefs. And we do know in neuroscience that when you form new beliefs, they take hold better than the old ones. As surprising as that is, um, I had a lot of fear of giving birth. There's a reason that HypnoBirthing changed my life and my career completely. And it's funny because I really was afraid I was excited to give birth. I was grateful to be a woman, I was happy that I get to experience things but I was really scared. And when I practice these techniques, and listened to the to the affirmations, I really changed. There was a day when I was about seven or eight months pregnant that I was hugging my husband. And right after our HypnoBirthing class ended and the instructor left, and we just hugged each other at the door, and I looked into his eyes, and I said, I feel so sorry for you that you don't get to have this baby. And I do. And he just took my face in his hands. And he was like, Who are you? Because, you know, a couple of months earlier, I was really terrified of giving birth. I asked the instructor whether I might hyperventilate when labor began, and if she had ever heard of anyone doing that, of course she hadn't, and neither have I. But my beliefs had changed and whether or not it was true whether or not it was right. Does that beliefs? I mean, think about it, what belief would serve me better going into labor thinking I might hyperventilate from stress, or that I was lucky to be a woman that I actually felt compassion for my husband that he didn't get to experience childbirth. Not that it's easier to be the woman, not that it's easier to be that person. But there was a part of me that really felt like, you know what I wouldn't want to trade it in. Yes, it's the harder role. It really is. There's no denying that. But I still wanted it. I wanted to step into it. And I deeply believe that played a role in the way my births went. Of course, there were factors entirely out of my control and everyone's control that also happened to work in my favor that day, but certainly if I had gone into labor, terrified, that could have constricted the cervix sent all the blood away from the uterus, it has a biophysical response. Okay, so before I get sidetracked into all of that stuff, that's the purpose of affirmations and you can use them with anything in life. And when you're raising your children, you can teach them affirmations. And another thing I want to say about when you create affirmations is not only should they be in the present tense, but you want positive words only The subconscious ignores negatives. So you would never want to say to yourself, I'm not scared. I'm not scared. I'm not scared. Because your subconscious is getting the word scared, scared, scared. So this is so hard for people when I ask this, and I usually sit for a few minutes until it comes to them. But I asked, What do you want? Why do you want? Because women are so clear on what they don't I just don't want intervention. I don't want an unnecessary this. I don't want to do that. I don't want to feel bullied. I don't want to feel scared. What do you want? And sometimes I say, imagine calling the woman closest to you. Whether it's a family member, a friend, right after you give birth, what do you wish you would say to her? What would you love to say to her about birth?

You know, do you want to say it was beautiful and I feel so much closer to my partner now? Or do you want to say I really felt my baby and me going through this process together or do you want to just say it was doable. I had a friend say That to me once you know it, Cynthia, it was doable. And that word was nice. Like, what doable is a good word. I'll take it. So decide what you do want, what do you want to feel? Because when you have a beautiful life experience, you don't come out of it and say, I wasn't scared. I wasn't this that wasn't that. You say, you know, it was comfortable. I really felt loved. I really felt trust. I really felt calm. I really felt in control. Whatever it is to you, there is no right there's no wrong, but identify what you do want. And then put that into your own affirmation. And then of course, these tools don't only apply in birthing they apply with everything in life. I just want to wrap up by saying the brain is the most important birthing organ. Don't worry about your uterus, don't worry about your cervix. Focus on your brain and how can you utilize this incredible tool you have toward your safest and most comfortable birth.

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If you enjoyed this podcast episode of the Down To Birth Show, please share with your pregnant and postpartum friends.

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Between episodes, connect with us on Instagram @DownToBirthShow to see behind-the-scenes production clips and join the conversation by responding to our questions and polls related to pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood.

You can reach us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com or call (802) 438-3696 (802-GET-DOWN). 

To join our monthly newsletter, text “downtobirth” to 22828.

About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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