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