While it’s a good idea not to overly anticipate exactly how your birth will go, a birth plan is a wonderful way to dream about your labor and the birth of your child and can be an important medium for clarifying an idea of how you’d like to approach the birth decisions you may be faced with.
As you’re sketching out your desires, remember to stay with the idea of flexibility around all the many unknowns that may arise during birth. Be able to trust and invest in the team around you to safely support your preferences.
The non-plan birth plan
My approach to a birth plan isn’t the standard list of step-by-step planning. In some ways I think that method can set you up for feelings of disappointment or confusion, because the truth is, birth goes how it goes. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be educated and map out what you’d like or not like—such as epidural or no epidural, photos or no photos of the actual birth—or abandon hope that your birth will go exactly the way you want.
It’s possible that it will, but it’s also important to cultivate a lot of room for encountering the unknown and not only coping, but emerging confident that you had the best process you could have.
Take some time to mull over the following questions. You may be surprised at what you come up with.
- When you imagine meeting your baby, what does that feel like? How does he or she feel in your arms? What does it feel like to gaze into each other’s eyes? What other images or emotions come up in this fantasy?
- Do you imagine saying anything in particular?
- What does the thought of being out of control bring up for you?
- Can you imagine being wild? What does that look like for you?
- Do have any fears or feelings of embarrassment when you imagine the birth scenario? Can you imagine letting those go? What would you need to help you let go?
- Where in your body can you imagine letting go of more tension (even if it seems unrelated to birth)?
- What fears or anxieties do you have about birth? Can you find where those feelings reside in your body? What do they need to be soothed?
- What is one thing you absolutely don’t want to happen during birth? If this very thing happened, what would you do to cope?
- Who would you like at your birth? Be honest with yourself.
- Who are you going to have with you to represent your desires for your birth and interpret the choices for you as you go along in the birth process?
- Do you trust and have confidence in your midwife or obstetrician? Is there anything you need to ask them or of them before birth?
Can you tuck your answers to all of these questions and the feelings you’ve connected with away somewhere in your thoughts to draw on if you need some inspiration during the birth process? Can you tell a person who is supporting you during birth to remind you of this “plan” during the birth?
Since birth just goes how it goes, I would suggest that you intend these questions to provoke a deep sense of inner guidance in you and stimulate your preferences while leaving plenty of room for possibility.