Let's be honest, you can never really plan your birth. How it’ll end up, when labor will start, how long it’ll take, etc. These kinds of things are just not in your control. As much as we would like theme to be! So what’s the point of planning ahead and having a birth plan?
Writing out your birth preferences allows you to educate yourself around the choices you DO have during your birth and to let your birth team know exactly what you need in order to feel supported and taken care of.
As a birth and postpartum doula, one of the biggest parts of my job is to help parents-to-be become as prepared as possible for their birth experience. No matter the client, I always aim to help the families I support to prepare for the unexpected.
No matter how much positive manifestation and prenatal prep you do, life just happens. Your tiny human is its own person with their own plans on how to enter the world. That’s why I’m calling on all you mamas & papas out there to throw out your birth plans and bring in a birth vision board instead.
Creating a personal birth vision will help better prepare you for your birth, allow you to become familiar with the pros and cons of each option available to you, and help you create the best possible birth experience for you and your baby - no matter how they plan on entering the world!
THE BASICS OF A BIRTH VISION
- After you’ve gone through researching all the options available to you in labor, birth & immediately postpartum, summarize your findings. Your final birth vision should be less than a page; that is not a lot of room so be sure to note what is most important to you and your family. That’s a tiny amount of space, but in order for your care provider to remember your priorities, keep it as to-the-point and space-effective as possible.
- Go over your birth vision with your care provider at around 36 weeks. Any earlier and things will get forgotten, and any later, you might go into preterm labor and that conversation would have been missed. You also have time to switch providers if they aren't on board for any of your priorities.
- Have several copies made for the day of your birth! One for your partner, your care provider, your doula, and more! If you plan to give birth in a medical setting, be aware that the staff will rotate every couple of hours, and they might not pass on your vision sheet from shift to shift. Having extras in your hospital bag will ensure that your whole team has the resources to be on the same page.
HOW TO PUT A BIRTH PLAN TOGETHER
- When thinking about your birth vision, feel free to get creative and bring in visual elements. What does your birth feel like? Look like? Sound like?
- In prenatal meetings, my clients and I go over a worksheet that contains all of your options when it comes to labor, birth and the immediate postpartum period. This way, you’re able to make an informed choice, even when things are going according to Plan A since you’ve already thought about what you feel comfortable with when it comes to Plan B. This includes:
- Preferences about the environment (music, lighting, home or hospital, etc.)
- Comfort measures (massage, rebozo, positions, birth pool, etc.)
- Medical interventions for the birthing person and baby (epidural, gas, saline, etc.)
- Pushing preferences (positions, coached pushing or person-led pushing)
- Empowered cesarean options (lowered screen, mirror to look at baby being born, who is the birth partner in the OR, etc.)
- Placenta plan (routine use of oxytocin, do you want to keep the placenta for encapsulation, etc.)
- Beliefs about immediately after birth (skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping, who cuts the cord, etc). I recommend talking to a doula or other birth professional to learn what all these options look like, or do some digging online to learn what an empowered birth looks like for you.
- Once you’ve thought about all these things, go back to the drawing board and make your one-page handout for your birth team. What are your biggest priorities? What things can your doula or partner communicate rather than have formally included in this one-pager?
One of the most taxing, but rewarding, lessons of parenting is learning to let things go and accept things for what they are.
By planning ahead, but allowing for all possible outcomes, you can feel more happy and prepared for any birth experience, even the unexpected ones. #lovemajka #fuelingmotherhood
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Rhiannon Langford is a full-spectrum doula & fertility coach based in Toronto, Canada. As founder of Birth Boss Maternity Care, she guides families to feel empowered as they transition to parenthood. Beginning her studies in bioethics and birth justice at Columbia University, she is now a certified Maternal Support Practitioner and has trained in many complementary practices, including aromatherapy, crystal healing & nutrition. Follow her on her socials!