My Birth Altar

Reader Contribution by Antonette Vasseur
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As the day that I will bring my third child earthside draws near I find myself not only nesting externally, but also focusing on organizing my thoughts, hopes and fears and gathering positive energy in a space where I will labor.

A Birth Altar is a space that will become a power symbol of your birth. You can choose a small table, dresser, or windowsill. You can add candles, things collected from nature or objects that are meaningful to you. It’s a place to keep your collection of strength.

Our bedroom is my sanctuary. It is a place of peace and comfort to me.  My place I go to relax, read, unwind, or make love. I plan on having the birth pool in our room in hopes of having a water birth and being able to move straight to our bed so the family can snuggle in and welcome our newest member. I started putting together an altar in one of the corners of our room, adding new objects as they spoke to me. I didn’t want to add just anything. This altar isn’t a decor piece for our bedroom, it is a place I will go to when I need to call on strength and trust and remind myself to surrender to this entire process.

My birth altar holds the following important objects to me:

– Birth Art: My son and I spent an evening drawing images that we felt would make me feel good during labor. Hanging on the wall behind my altar is a drawing he made of me pregnant, and a drawing I created of a lotus opening up. I have felt a connection this pregnancy with the image of a lotus flower so I felt it was healing to sit and take the time to draw and connect to the idea of opening up like a lotus.

– Prayer Flags: I sat and wrote in my pregnancy journal all the words of affirmation I could think, words that spoke to me. Then I went to the sewing machine and grabbed my fabric pen and set to work on my prayer flags. These five words I choose as reminders to myself not only during labor, but also now during my nesting phase. The words are: Trust, Strength, Love, Surrender and Peace. Peace to me is very important. No matter how my labor might go, or how the birth story will be written, in the end, I want to feel a sense of peace. I wish that for all birthing women. 

– Blessing Rocks: My friends held a Mother Blessing for me a few weeks ago and I was gifted beautiful river rocks that each one of them had written a blessing or encouraging word on. The center rock is one I made for myself during my birth art session that says “I am grateful”. I want to remind myself, even through the pain of each contraction, that I am grateful for this grow life, deliver life, and nourish life outside of my body. For all of this I am extremely grateful.

– Poems and Blessings: On my altar I have included poems written by friends, and blessings. The poem “Nestle” was written for me by my dear friend Suzanne and presented to me at my motherblessing. I look at the poem and think of the love and time she put into writing it, and the positive energy she was sending to me and my baby. 

– Birth Bundle: A friend and fellow doula sent me this link awhile back about creating a birth bundle to place on the altar. The idea is to place three items that represent mother, father and baby and also draws upon the energies of mind, body and spirit. You place these three items in a cloth and tie it closed. You can choose to open the bundle during labor, or save it to open after the birth as reminder of the rite of passage. My bundle includes these three objects: my mother’s ring, my engagement ring, and an earring that was brought back from Bali from one of my midwives and given to me as a gift. These three objects all have very special meaning to me, and I spent time holding and focusing on each one before wrapping it up in leftover fabric I had from making my daughters quilt.  More information about a birth bundle can be read here 

– Birth Beads: The homebirth VBAC (Vaginal Birth after Cesarean) I had with my daughter was one of the most empowering moments of my life. I draw so much strength from that day. I placed the birth beads that I wore on her birthing day in a small glass votive jar as a reminder that I have done this before and can do this again if I just trust in my body and my baby. I received many birth beads during this pregnancy and used them to create birthing jewelry that I plan to wear during labor. I will write more about them in my homebirth preparation blog coming soon.

  Today I am measuring 37 weeks, and each day I am closer to the moment my body will decide it is time to begin the process of bringing Baby V out into this world. I have spent some time every morning at my birth altar, taking a few deep breaths and saying good morning to my baby. Every day we are closer to meeting each other, and I look forward to the moment I get to hold my baby and kiss their sweet face. Until then I want savor each moment I have now, being grateful, trusting, and preparing myself for the surrender of birth.

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