Is your birth plan helping you connect to your power and confidently advocate for yourself and your goals?
Birth plans can be a strangely divisive topic in the birth world. Some people believe they are rigid lists of what you do or don’t want done during your birth. But a birth plan done right can help you obtain the education you need from your provider to be able to say yes or no to a procedure that is most likely a routine practice or policy.
So how do you create a powerful birth plan? When you stop the information overload and uncover the values, beliefs, and goals behind your birth preferences you can create a birth plan that helps you connect with your power and feel confident advocating for yourself no matter what happens during your birth.
I hate to do this to you, but knowing all of the things about pregnancy and birth is not enough to build a powerful birth plan.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It is extremely important to know your options as a birthing person. Education and preparation can make a massive difference in your birthing experience. Taking a childbirth education class, hiring a doula, researching evidence-based care… These are all important pieces of the puzzle, but information alone isn’t enough.
You can spend hours pouring over information, review all of the options with your doula, and agonize over building a detailed birth plan, but if you come back from your prenatal appointments feeling unheard, your birth plan isn’t working for you.
It is really easy to get caught up in the gathering information stage of preparation. But having information (either in your birth plan or in your head) isn’t especially helpful if you can’t effectively communicate why that information is important to you.
How to uncover core beliefs and values
Getting clear on your core beliefs, values, and goals is the key to creating a powerful birth plan. When your plan is built on this foundation the process itself can be transformative and help you feel confident and empowered when making decisions about your care during pregnancy and birth.
But what does this look like in real life?
Here are some practical tips to help you uncover your core beliefs and values around birth so that your plan and goals are all in alignment:
- Journaling: set a timer for at least 15 minutes and write down whatever comes to mind when you think about birth. Your fears, expectations, hopes… allow yourself to really explore what you believe about birth.
- Themes: after journaling a few times (I would suggest at least 3 different sessions to really uncover the core beliefs) go back and highlight things that keep coming up. Do you view birth as a spiritual experience? Is maintaining a sense of control important to you? Do you believe birth is an opportunity to surrender and get support from an awesome team? Write down the top 1-3 themes that you discovery
- Discussion: Once you have 1-3 themes identified, spend some time exploring this with trusted members of your birth team. This can be your partner, your doula, a close friend, or a family member… finding someone who can help you explore these beliefs and values without judgment is key.
You can repeat this process as many times as needed until you feel confident that you have gotten to the very core of your beliefs and values around birth.
Now you have a compass to guide each decision on your birth plan (and as things inevitably change during your birth).
Creating a powerful birth plan
I say this from a place of love, but If your birth plan does connect to your deepest beliefs and goals it isn’t worth the paper it is printed on.
Information is extremely important, but information without a WHY will not help you when you meet resistance or when things don’t go as planned.
It isn’t realistic to think you will be able to learn everything about every single choice, outcome, or procedure that could happen during birth. Using your core beliefs, values, and goals to guide the creation of your birth plan will help you focus on what is truly important to you and feel confident when communicating these goals with any care provider.
This is how you can put your WHY into action when creating your birth plan:
- Have your top 1-3 beliefs about birth written down somewhere where you can see and refer back to them
- Work with your doula to identify the most relevant information to focus on when learning about procedures and options to include on your plan based on what your top beliefs are
- Write down what is MOST important to you and any questions you need to be answered by your provider about how your plan might differ from the routine care they provide
- After your plan is ready, schedule a time to review it with your provider. Have questions ready and key members of your birth team present if you need extra support
- Communicate the WHY with your provider to help them understand the choices you’re making and what makes them uniquely important to you and your care
- Pay attention to your provider’s response to your preferences. Do they seem comfortable with your plan? Be open to exploring any discomfort with your provider. You might be making choices they aren’t accustomed to, but you ultimately can make whatever choice is best for you and your family. Addressing their concerns or discomfort is a great way to bring them into your team and open up honest communication.
- Get your provider to sign off on your plan and acknowledge that you have made informed choices about your care. Now you have a signed plan as verification of the communication
When you identify your core beliefs and goals about birth FIRST you can stop information overload and build a birth plan that is deeply connected to your power and lays the foundation to confidently advocate for yourself and your baby no matter who your care provider is or what happens in your birth.
Working with your doula, involving your care providers, and digging deeper than a basic birth plan is the first step in shifting the way you think about pregnancy, birth, and parenting.
I talk about this in the Keeping Your Power ® for birthing persons course. Do not miss out on this valuable information that you won’t find anywhere else. This course will help you communicate with your providers and care staff effectively in pregnancy and labor to plan the birth you want and is best for you!