Mantras are awesome. The literal, Sanskrit translation of the word man-tra is “instrument of thought.” A mantra is a sound, word, or group of words capable of creating transformation. And in the world of birth, transformation is the epicenter.
Seed Sounds. Bija mantras are these neat, little one-syllable seed sounds. Each seed sound is said to activate the energy associated with its specific chakra (as defined in Eastern communities) or nerve plexus (as defined in Western communities). However you choose to define it, these sounds help you focus your instinctive awareness and work with your body. The Bija mantras include: “LAM” (1/root), “VAM” (2/sacral-naval), “RAM” (3/solar plexus), “YAM” (4/heart), “HAM” (5/throat), “OM” (6/third eye), and “OM” (7/crown). These seed sounds can be said by themselves or in sequential order. During labor, the need for one sound over another is certain to change. Try the sounds sequentially and see what feels right for you. Then, maybe focus on one or two Bija mantras until your sensations shift.
Negation and the brain. When it comes to mantras, your brain is like a 6 year old with a brand new highlighter. It doesn’t care for the menial modifiers or prepositions. Your brain wants the REAL words (and it wants to highlight them until the ink smears). This means you have to be deliberate in the words/ phrases you choose in your mantra. A mantra like, “this could be worse” is not a helpful mantra because your brain just honed in on “worse.” Positive, solution-oriented mantras are vital. A few of my personal mantras from birth #2 are:
You were built for this
Your body is wise
You are being so good to this baby
Allow the energy to flow from mind to cervix. Become a hollow passageway
I want to open up; I can open up
I love you
Feel free to use these or spend some meditative time creating your own. Then write them down and distribute to your spouse, doula, midwife, doctor, or whoever else will be attending your birth because… pregnancy brain… is a real thing ;)
They work. In one of my favorite books, Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, Ina May has no shortage of stories where positive mantras make all the difference. One story that resonates with me is about a woman who delivered a 10lb baby BREECH. The mama’s mantra was “I’m going to get HUGE!” (in reference to cervical dilation) and she totally did. Not a single tear. I hope this short introduction to mantras inspires you to play with different words and sounds!