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Mind Over Matter: Creating a Positive Mindset Prior to Labor


Have you ever realized how much you can control with your mind? It’s true!

Try it. Close your eyes. Well not yet, because you won’t be able to read this prompt (you get it).

Picture yourself in an elevator. It’s stuffy and the air is stale. You look up at the cold lights that are flickering, and with each lurch to the next floor, it feels like time is stretched. Then all of a sudden, the elevator jams. You’re alone, and you don’t know what to do next. You feel the beads of sweat start on the back of your neck.


Now, let’s try another.

You’re walking underneath hundreds-year old oak trees. The sun is setting over the hills and the air is crisp and warm at the same time. You inhale and smell ripe apples, leaves, marigolds, and the warmth of the soil around you. You exhale and your smile widens as you reach your destination.


Viscerally, did you feel different from one scenario to the next? It’s pretty wild how much your mind can convince your body what to do. Numerous scientific studies conducted over three decades have shown that having a negative pain mindset, whether that’s expecting pain or ruminating on it, affects pain intensity, length of recovery, and even how well pain medicine works (Darnall, 2018). 

In contrast, creating a positive mindset prior to labor can ground you in some ways despite not being totally in control. There are a number of ways parents can prepare for labor: reading books, going to prenatal classes about labor and delivery, breastfeeding, and baby care, talking to friends and family, and working with a birth and/or postpartum doula. You have the power to downregulate pain and diminish how it’s processed in your nervous system by using pain relief tools like meditation, visualization, breath work, or hypnobirthing which combines it all (Seminowicz et al, 2014).

One of my best friends, Rachel, told me prior to her labor with her first child, she kept repeating the mantra “All will be well” in her head. It stuck with me through both of my labors. I don’t know whether it was the surrendering nature of the sentence or the fact that it came from a trusted friend, but it was so comforting to me.

A sense of positive letting-go.

My hope is that by creating a positive mindset, you’ll be able to trust your body, your instincts, and the flow that will take place when your mind is in a space of peace and free of constraint. Adopt a mantra. Visualize your happy place. And take solace in the positive letting-go.


Darnall, B. (2018, January 19). The Power of Mindset Science for Pain Relief and Health. Psychology Today.

Seminowicz DA, Shpaner M, Keaser ML, Krauthamer MG, Mantegna J, Dumas JA, Newhouse PA, Filippi C, Keefe FJ, Naylor MR. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Increases Prefrontal Cortex Gray Matter in Patients With Chronic Pain. J Pain. 2013 Dec; 14(12):1573-84. Epub 2013 Oct 14.