Abandon the Birth Plan in Favor of a Birth Vision Statement

in Parent

If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably already begun taking all the steps you need in order to be best prepared for class. You’ve found a care provider, secured your Doula, enrolled in Childbirth Education class, and read everything you can about childbirth. You’ve probably also been encouraged to create a birth plan, the document in which women lay down precisely the kind of birth they hope to have.

Creating a written statement of how you envision your ideal birth can be a terrific step toward helping create it. However, it is important when drafting them, however, to keep the word ‘hope’ in there in mind.   We must see our Birth Plan as only a starting point, because we never know exactly what will transpire when we go into labor, and I think it important to remain fluid, able to respond to the entire process while remaining in the moment.  Yes, it is important to envision in advance what your ideal birth would be like, but it is also important to allow yourself the fluidity that enables you to honor yourself, your baby, and the experience as it unfolds.

Too often women become discouraged, and feel bad about their birth, if they failed to follow their Birth Plan to a “T”.  It is for the reasons listed here that I strongly encourage you to throw out the words “Birth Plan” and to replace them with a “Birth Vision Statement.”

When we plan something and it doesn’t go our way, there are too many bad feelings.   Women, children, families overall benefit from a positive story surrounding the birth of their family when they welcome a child into the world.   Plans open us up to seeing any deviation from set plans as a ”failure” when in reality there is no such thing, only a failure to remain in control of a life situation.

The truth of the matter is we are not in control.  We can set up everything to create an ideal setting and circumstances, have our doula present, take our Childbirth Education Classes, and make a commitment to having a specific kind of birth, but life is going to unfold as it will from there.  We may want to give ourselves the illusion of control, but if we instead surrender to reality, we are in a much better situation to actually create the birth experience we hope for.

A Birth Vision Statement will outline your IDEAL birth.  In it we will set out all the things we hope to see happen in our birth experience, and what we hope our birth story looks like.   Who knows?  While the reality of your birth may wind up different, for all you know it may turn out to be better than you imagined.   Taking the pressure off of ourselves, and allowing ourselves to embrace the birth honestly, fully conscious, moment-by-moment could enable you to create the best birth story imaginable for your family, because it honored the birth moment by moment.

So what does a Birth Vision Statement look like?  In my next post I will walk you through creating your Birth Vision Statement, but for now understand the basics:

  • A Birth Vision Statement contains much of the same information as a Birth Plan – it is more the spirit of it that is different.
  • While a Birth Vision Statement contains much of the same information or ideas as a Birth Plan, rather than focusing on what you don’t want (i.e. ‘I don’t want an epidural’ or ‘I don’t want an episiotomy’) it instead focuses on YOUR VISION OF WHAT YOU DO WANT (i.e. ‘I want the ability to move freely around in my labor’; ‘I want to feel my body so I can respond to it and push when ready’ [something you may not be able to do when you have an epidural]; or ‘I want my perineum massaged and oiled so it can stretch to accommodate the birth safely, thus avoiding tears’).   See, you have the same outcome, such as no epidural or episiotomy, but you are coming at it from a pro-active statement
  • A Birth Vision Statement paints a positive picture for your support group, your Staten Island Doula, medical team, family, all involved, inviting them into creating an ideal situation for you, rather than putting them on the offensive (as Birth Plans too often do), giving them the feeling that you don’t trust them to do their job right.

A Birth Vision Statement works to pull your team together, demonstrating that you are entrusting them to help create the best birth experience possible, while showing them what that would look like.  It also will include information on what would be part of that vision if a ‘hitch’ presented, such as a prolapsed cord or other emergency.  If you prepare in advance for unplanned circumstances, even a less than ideal situation such as an emergency c-section could still be a better experience than it would otherwise be.

For example, if you create a Birth Vision Statement that takes into account that life happens, and not always according to your plans, you would mention what would help create the best situation possible even when things are less than ideal.  An example of this would be:  In the case of an emergency cesarean, I would appreciate a silent meditative birth of my child.  (a statement that could help prevent the staff from talking about last night’s game while delivering your child).

Another example would be:  I would want to hold my child immediately after delivery.

Yes, the emergency cesarean may not be your ‘ideal birth’ or something you would have included in a “Birth Plan.” But creating a Birth Vision Statement instead of a Plan demonstrates your awareness of life, and helps you create the best possible outcome, regardless of what turn things take.  And this allows you to feel empowered, even if you are in a situation that would otherwise feel out-of-control.  And perhaps more importantly, it allows you to carry forward a birth story that leaves you feeling like you truly had a part in it, rather than just being a victim of circumstance.   So think twice about a “Birth Plan” and consider creating a “Birth Vision Statement” instead.

Check out the blog of Staten Island’s Doula& Childbirth Education Center, Birth Right Now at www.BirthRightNow.com For more information on retaining a Doula in Staten Island, or attending a Comprehensive Childbirth Education Class in Staten Island, or enrolling in a Birth Art or Birth Moves: Fit to Deliver Course, visit our website or call us at 347-500-6038. You can also email us at birthrightnow@gmail.com We look forward to serving you!

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Laura Saba has 7 articles online

Staten Island’s doula service and childbirth education center, Birth Right Now, is here to help!  We are here to offer you education, support, and community during the birth year and beyond!

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Abandon the Birth Plan in Favor of a Birth Vision Statement

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Abandon the Birth Plan in Favor of a Birth Vision Statement

This article was published on 2011/01/18