What comes to mind when you think about a birth plan?

Lists of things you want to happen?

Lists of things you want to avoid?

Both of those are important. I believe it’s a great idea to go over all the options you have available and all the possible interventions that might be presented to you. It can be very beneficial to think about those items before you head to the hospital in labor, so you can do some research and decide what’s important to you.

But what if you started your birth planning with how you wanted your birth experience to feel?

Try this:

Sit for a minute and think about how you want to feel during your birth. Take a piece of paper and some colored pencils and start drawing, writing down words, ideas. You might use peaceful colors or scenes that make you feel relaxed, maybe a favorite place of yours. You might use words like calm, happy, joyful, peaceful, confident, strong, powerful, listened to, etc.

This may help you reframe the way you look at options and interventions that are available to you during your labor and delivery. It can also really help if details of your birth plan do not or cannot happen.

Imagine if you would like to feel strong and powerful during your birth. So, you write on your plan that you want to have an unmedicated labor. Then after a very long labor and very little sleep, you decide that the best thing for you is to have an epidural to get some rest. You dose for a few hours and then you gather all your strength and power and bring a new human being into this world. Sounds pretty strong and powerful to me! So, while the detail may have changed, the feeling did not.

Imagine if you wanted to feel listened to and confident. So, you write on your plan that you want time to go over any intervention with your partner before anything is done. Then there’s a moment of distress and the doctor and nurses rush into action. You feel confident in your choice of provider and, so you watch them quickly figure out and solve the problem. The staff gives you all the details and answers all your questions. Your doula listens as you process through your concerns and you feel heard. Again, the detail may have changed but the end goal was met.

And what would your parenting experience look like if you started with how you want it to feel, instead of a list of do’s and don’ts? What if your parenting plan included words like respect and harmony, love and acceptance? If you start with those ideas in mind, then the details of how can sometimes be easier to figure out.

Birth and parenting are fluid and unpredictable, and there are many factors that we can’t control.

While the details are important, if we focus too much on them we can lose sight of the why behind them. If we adjust our goal from the details to the overall experience, that goal is much more likely to be met.


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