Sacred space transcends where we are; it represents an environment where the profoundness of birth and the real world around us find harmony. In many cultures, childbirth is regarded as a rite of passage—a transformative experience that demands respect, sensitivity, and support. This sacredness is not just about spirituality or beliefs; it’s about acknowledging the incredible power and vulnerability of the birthing person and honoring the space around this time of labor, birth, and postpartum. When we see our birth space as sacred, it becomes like a sanctuary or safe haven, a place where every element is intentionally chosen to nurture, empower, and protect. It’s where the external environment aligns with the internal experience of birth. Honoring the sacredness of the birth space can profoundly impact the emotional and physical well-being of the birthing family, facilitating a more positive and empowering birth experience.
No matter where you choose to welcome your new baby—be it in a hospital, a birth center, the comfort of your own home, or in an RV in the woods—establishing a sacred and safe space is entirely possible and profoundly impactful. The essence of creating such a space lies in the intentionality behind the environment, not the location itself. By thoughtfully considering and incorporating elements that resonate with your vision of a serene and empowered birth, you can transform any setting into a sacred sanctuary. It’s about bringing reverence to the process, honoring your journey, supporting your goals, and ensuring that the environment reflects the sanctity of childbirth. In my years of experience as a birth doula and photographer, I’ve witnessed many births that I would describe as sacred. And within those spaces, there are seven key tips that are pivotal in creating this peaceful and inspiring atmosphere. These tips are not just about aesthetics or comfort; they’re about weaving a sense of safety into the very fabric of your experience, making it as empowering and positive as possible, regardless of where it unfolds.
1. Intentional Lighting
The ambiance of your birth space can significantly influence your comfort and state of mind. Intentional lighting allows you to customize this energy to suit your preferences, whether you’re drawn to the soft glow of candlelight, the gentle twinkle of fairy lights, the natural brightness of window light, or the seclusion of a dim, cave-like environment. Having options lets you adapt the space as your needs change throughout labor. For home births, I usually recommend setting up a couple of spaces that are comfortable for you. Maybe one is a dark hall bathroom where you can truly feel alone, while the other is a birthtub in the heart of your home surrounded by all the things that inspire you and remind you of your power. For hospital or birth center births, you may feel a bit more limited, but this is where bringing your own twinkle lights can be a really great way to offer a dimly lit in-between, in contrast to the more harsh hospital lights. I love the battery-powered lights since they can really be placed anywhere around the space, rather than the plug-in style, which need to stay close to an available plug.
2. Essential Oils for a Calming Scent
Aromatherapy can be a powerful tool in creating a soothing atmosphere and supporting your needs during labor itself. Essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, or peppermint can be diffused to fill the space with calming energy and smell, helping to ease tension and promote relaxation. Oils like orange, clary sage, and bergamot can fill the room with energy and be a great mood lifter when labor feels slowed, stalled, or you’re feeling exhausted. Supporting all of your senses during labor can be a powerful way to connect with your body and baby in the space.
3. Birth Affirmations
Positive and empowering birth affirmations can be a source of strength and encouragement during labor. Place affirming words and phrases in visible, inspiring locations around your birth space. Choose affirmations that align with your goals and hopes for your birth, using language that uplifts and empowers you.
A few of my favourite birth affirmations are,
“My baby and I are working together”
“I am stronger than these waves”
“Today is the day I meet my child”
4. Supportive Birth Team and Care Provider
The energy of your birth team is pivotal. Ensure that everyone from your doctor or midwife to the attending nurse is in tune with your vision and brings positive energy. A doula aligned with your values can offer immense support, and an experienced birth photographer can navigate the space with calmness and professionalism as they capture the powerful, beautiful moments of your journey. Remember, it’s entirely within your rights to curate those in your birth space, inviting only those who contribute positively to your experience. You may not vibe with your nurse in a hospital setting, so you can always ask for a new one. You also do not need to allow students (if you are in a teaching hospital) to observe. Honestly, I would recommend keeping the additional people in the room who are strangers to you at a bare minimum. You can’t control what energy people bring into your space, but you can ask them to leave if it’s not supportive of your sacred birth journey.
5. Birth Support Beyond Professionals
While we are talking about people in the birth space, it’s also important to be discerning about the presence of loved ones at your birth. If they are invited, that means that during labor, they should be a source of support, not distraction. Those welcome in your space should be fully aware of your birth plan and prepared to offer the support you need. Whether it’s a mom, sister, or friend; no one is owed an invitation to your birth. This is your moment. If their hope is to meet the baby, just invite them after while keeping your labor and birth centered on you and the support YOU need.
6. Music to Set the Tone
Music can profoundly affect your mood and energy. Consider creating two playlists: one to energize you when needed and another to help you find peace and relaxation. The right music can offer both comfort and motivation, accompanying you through the various stages of labor. I’ve also seen rain sounds be a wonderful and calming addition to the birth atmosphere, or a birth partner pulling out their guitar to sing a special song to empower their birthing partner.
7. Available Options for Preferred Birth Experience
Lastly, your physical environment should be equipped with tools and options that align with your birth goals. Whether it’s a birth tub for water birth, a shower for comfort, or a birth ball to aid in labor, these resources can be instrumental in achieving your desired birth experience, which allows a feeling of freedom in the space.
For hospital births, make sure you take a tour of the rooms beforehand. Many offer showers and some even tubs for comfort. But knowing what is available can help you set expectations clearly.
Giving birth at home means you can buy or borrow really anything that sounds supportive to you for birth. I typically recommend a birth tub and birth ball as a minimum, so you feel free to move around the space and have options for different positions.
Birth Centers typically have all the stuff you will need and even more, from birth stools, large birthing tubs, to the essential tools for your labor.
Creating a sacred birth space is a personal journey, one that allows you to curate the atmosphere around your birth to resonate with your birth goals and needs. Each of these seven essential tips contributes to layering your sacred space with a sense of safety, harmony, and profound respect for the birthing process. By integrating these elements, you create more than just a physical environment; you build a sanctuary filled with energy that supports, empowers, and aligns with your transformation.