Birth Intentions not Birth Plans

Writing your Birth Plan?  Consider reframing it as your Birth Intentions.

We all know births don’t go according to plan, right?  I’d love to see a shift away from calling the birth plan a birth plan and more towards something that allows for sharing our ideas about how we want our birth to go without the “commitment” of a plan.

The Problem with Birth Plans

One of the problems with birth plans is that they can be perceived by hospital staff as a setup for failure or disappointment.  The joke is sometimes bandied about that the birth plan is a ‘ticket to the OR.’   I don’t think anyone who is planning a vaginal and/or unmedicated birth wants to invite that presumption to their birthing space.  A slight change in our language can help hospital staff see what we hope for our birth experience while also showing them that we understand the situation is fluid.

I’ve also heard people call the birth plan their “Birth Preferences”.  While this does acknowledge that birth is no place for a rigid plan, I think that the word ‘preferences’ is too non-committal for the hospital staff because preferences are perceived like this:  I would *prefer* to have black olives on my pizza, but it’s okay if I don’t get them.  Using preferences for your birth:  I would *prefer* that you don’t stick your hand in my vagina, but it’s okay if you do.  <—-  That doesn’t work for a lot of reasons.   But, the main reason I really don’t like the word “preferences” is because it gives the power to someone else.

Why We Should Call Them “Birth Intentions”

Showing up with your Birth Intentions conveys a few ideas.  First, that you the birthing person are, in fact, the person with the power.  You are asserting your autonomy.  Second, it creates a space where you can say what you want about your birth without feeling guilty or disappointed if things go differently.  Third, naming your birth intentions clarifies for your birth team what you expect to happen, unless you deem otherwise.  Intentions are hopeful versus dictatorial (plans) or submissive (preferences).

So let’s say a few birth intentions together, shall we?

My Birth Intentions
i intend To receive my child skin-to-skin immediately after birth and remain this way for as long as we desire.
i intend To keep the umbilical cord attached and intact until it appears white, allowing my baby’s blood to return to their body from the placenta.
i intend To remain undisturbed during active labor unless I specifically ask for support or interventions.
i intend To labor and birth in any position that my body tells me.

 

Now, create your own Birth Intentions.  You can do something as simple as changing the title of your document from “Birth Plan” to “Birth Intentions”.  But, because I’m a fan of the law of attraction, I highly recommend trying to phrase your intentions in such a way that you are inviting them to happen.  This has a way of shifting our mindset if we are in need of reclaiming our power.

I’d love to hear your birth intentions so please share in the comments if you’d like .  It feels empowering to put them out in the world and inspires others to create their own.

Power to the Birther,

Earth Mama Jenn

DIY Birth Affirmations, Mantras, Meditations

Meditation helps you get into the right “head space” for labor, but it takes practice.

If you are more of a do-it-yourselfer, you will LOVE writing your own birth mantras for meditation.  What could be more tailor-made for your birth than mantras that resonate with the very soul who composed them?

When we are in labor, the goal is to get through each contraction and rest in between them.  But, if we let our fear get the best of us, we end up suffering during the contraction as well as in between contractions, because we get caught up in anticipating the pain.  “Mantras are sacred words that have spiritual qualities when uttered. They are used to connect with the Divine and protect the mind from sources of suffering,” writes Jillian Babcock in an article for Yogapedia titled, “The Sacred Meaning of Mantras”.

The goal of repeating mantras (or affirmations) and centering your meditation on a mantra is to get into a part of your brain that is very primal.  This part of the brain called the “mammalian brain”, when accessed during birth, can most easily be done when the birthing person feels safe, supported and loved.  When you are in your mammalian brain, your birth experience is more likely to unfold just the way nature has designed.  The cascade of hormones that helps your body relax and open is unleashed from that place inside of us that is pure animal instinct.  To let go of rational thinking and submit to the will of your body and baby; that is the goal.

But how do you get there?  Seems like a strange place to be for someone who tends to overthink things, who overprepares for everything . . . who is a perfectionist.  You can start by journaling your thoughts and fears.  This is followed by looking over your journaling after a week with ‘girlfriend eyes’ and determine what negative beliefs need to be replaced with positive ones.  Those positive thoughts become your mantras and the script for your guided meditation.  Give yourself time, though.  The process of writing your mantras and changing your negative beliefs into positive ones takes around 6 weeks.

According to Nikki Novo, writing for Miami Racked, “The idea is that if we continue to repeat a positive mantra over and over again, eventually it will override a negative belief our mind has grown accustomed to.”  She goes on to give a step-by-step guide to write your own mantra.  You can tweak this to use in your labor.  Click here to access the guide.