Review: Birth Affirmations by Susan Singer
In one of the final sessions of our childbirth class, the teacher walked us soon-to-be-mamas and our partners through putting together our birth plans. Most of us ended up in the class because we hoped to experience birth with minimal medical interventions. With that in mind, she encouraged us to come up with a few affirmations to comfort our fears and help us embrace the hard work that is pregnancy and birth.
I had two: “I can do anything for a day.” and “I am in good hands.”
While I don’t remember if I actually said either of these aloud—I do remember shouting “OPEN!” to my cervix a few times, though—they both ran on a loop in my brain for the entirety of my labor and delivery. Good thing because I labored for over 22 hours, so almost an actual day. And since a C-section was necessary to bring our son into the world safe and sound, my faith in God and my doctors was key in owning that experience.
Sure, my birth didn’t follow the bulleted list I put together, with my husband but it was still thrilling and beautiful and mine. I don’t doubt that those affirmations played a huge part in giving me that perspective.
Richmond, Virginia-based artist and writer Susan Singer offers mothers-to-be the opportunity to create that same experience with Birth Affirmations.
As Singer explains in the book’s introduction:
“When I was pregnant with my second child, I received a small book of handwritten birth affirmations from a friend. I greedily opened the book and read powerful words that connected me with the universality of birth: ‘I birth my baby like billions of women before me.’ ‘I know how to birth my baby.’ I breathed in the natural wisdom and beautiful vision contain within that collection. each day of my pregnancy, I read the words and absorbed them as my own, adding new affirmations as they occurred to me.”
According to Singer’s Amazon biography, her own experience with the power of birth affirmations inspired her to create small books of her own to share with friends when they were pregnant. Meanwhile, she branched out from her craft roots and started painting and drawing, eventually creating a series of pregnant nudes. Finally, in 2015, Singer put her writing and artistic talents together and created a book—a sweet, little square of a book—that uses words and images to guide women through the challenges and joys that come with bringing life into the world.
The book is divided into five sections. The first four sections—My Pregnant Body, Giving Birth, After the Birth, and Nursing—include affirmations related to their respective stages, encouraging the mother to honor and celebrate what her body is doing for her and her baby. She often offers words that, back when I was a mother-to-be/new mother, would never have occurred to me as something I needed to hear. Some of my favorites…
“This baby will birth in his or her perfect timing.”
“I accept and bless the path by which this baby comes to us.”
“I trust my body.”
“It’s ok to let others care for me while I care for my baby.”
I realize my preference is likely influenced by how I gave birth: in an operating room. But I think the fact that I found affirmations relevant to my experience speaks well of what Singer has done here. Sure, her target audience is likely those working for an intervention-free birth. But that doesn’t always happen. Singer’s carefully crafted phrases acknowledge that and don’t leave out those who might end up with an intervention-full birth, whether by choice or necessity.
Each section also features stunning illustrations drawn from photos friends shared with Singer that celebrating that particular stage of birth and early motherhood. Even though I’m over seven years removed from pregnancy and birth (and have no plans to go back there any time soon…or ever), so many of those images caused a physical reaction in me: lots of tears, a big lump in my throat, and—I’m just going to say it—phantom letdown a few times. It’s thrilling to think about what effect they might have on women who actually will be bringing a baby into the world in the near future.
Singer uses those first four sections to provide inspiration for the fifth and final section of the book. There Singer gives the reader space to write her own affirmations and—eventually—her birth story, helping her create a tangible memory of this amazing journey she and her baby took together.*
Just think about that. Imagine sitting down with your son or daughter and sharing the words that you used as you worked to bring him or her into the world. And then reading about the time you first met “earthside”, as they say.
Excuse me. I have to go weep now.
Susan Singer’s Birth Affirmations can be purchased through Amazon or through her website, birthaffirmationsbook.com. In addition to Birth Affirmations, her website also offers the option of buying a gift set of birth affirmation postcards and prints of the images featured in the book—all of which would make amazing gifts for the women in your life who are about to enter (or re-enter) the magical/terrifying world of new motherhood.
(Image courtesy of Susan Singer.)
*There’s also space at the front of the book to jot down your birth plan—one stop shop, folks!