“Be mindful of the words you say, you never know how they may affect someone’s day.” I’m not sure where that quote came from but it is one of my favorites.
I used to say this to myself often when I would get frustrated at work as a doula, although I must admit, I did not always practice what I preached. However, at a birth I attended recently the significance of this quote was apparent.
The mom had words of encouragement strategically placed throughout her room, painted on cardboard squares in vibrant colors. The boards included phrases such as, “My body was made to do this” and “Each surge brings me closer to having my baby in my arms.”
It was a project she had done with her older children to give them the opportunity to feel included in her birth experience. Their contribution proved to hold great significance to her birth outcome.
As the intensity of her surges rose, she would ask to have her boards brought closer to her and would fixate on them with laser focus. This was her coping mechanism and for her it worked beautifully.
This practice is not uncommon in the birthing world. During our training, doulas are taught many different encouraging phrases and words to offer our laboring mothers. We are also taught the importance of recognizing when our silent support is necessary.
This might not be the case with nurses and physicians. At no fault of their own, they are trained to think, speak and act with a medical mind.
This training in turn can sometimes take the compassion out of the care they provide and in many cases cause them to see a patient as a diagnosis or a liability instead of a human being.
But what would happen if words of encouragement were included in a medical terminology class? What if all labor rooms had such quotes posted on the walls? I’ve attend a number of births were I saw firsthand how deflating it can be to a laboring mom to hear a caregiver say, “If your cervix doesn’t change soon we are going to have to visit other options” or “I recommend a c-section due to your failure to progress.”
Those negative words become part of the description of her birth experiences and often times plants a subconscious seed that she or her body somehow failed at a task it was supposedly built to do.
In this age of technology and social media we are slowly but surely becoming increasingly desensitized. Words are such powerful tools. They can have a lasting affect and be a source of strength as well as frailty.
It is so important to remember the importance of speaking from a place of compassion and empowerment. Doing so causes us to think and act from a more positive perspective and can in turn improve or interactions with one another on any level.
Sara M. Edward is a birth doula, educator and Reiki master. www.facebook.com /angelworks