Birth is so unpredictable. It's not easy to plan for. But when you do make a plan, and have the attitude of surrender knowing that that plan can change, it can really set you up for an amazing experience.
I want to share my thoughts on birth planning with you, from the medical to the physical and emotional. I believe planning for birth is vital to preventing unnecessary trauma. We know that you can't plan and expect everything to happen according to plan, but being educated on your rights, your choices, and your options is extremely important. When you do not make these choices, they are made for you.
There are so many great resources out there for helping you create the perfect birth plan medically. I really love the visual birth plan templates, they make it easy for the birth workers to read and comprehend your desires. Having a doula is a great way to ensure your birth plan is followed. Some people think of a birth plan as your "perfect" birth ideals. But its so much more then that. When you create a medical birth plan, you can include all the what if's. What if you are rushed to an emergency cesarean- what will make that easier for you? Do you know there are options in the OR too? What if you tear, do you know there are natural healing options in addition to stitching? Did you know there are positions and ways to push that prevent tearing (hint- laying on your back is the worst position for tearing!) ? What do you, and don't you want to consent to in birth? Educate yourself, and make a birth plan. It doesn't have to be complicated, but it should be from your heart. This is your body and your baby, and when you don't make decisions they are made for you. Learn about birth, about what the policies are at your place of birth, and make those decisions now so you can let go of stress on the day its time. And also remember you can change your mind, at anytime, about anything. YOUR CONSENT is vital. You have the right to say no- to anything. Nothing should ever be done without your consent. Though its often taught otherwise, you are the one in the drivers seat and I believe its important to remember that and to ensure your team feels the same way.
Medical aside, today I mainly want to speak to the things that you can't put on paper. The space. Your birth space, is both physical and spiritual. It is the environment, the objects, the people, and the energy surrounding you.
The first thing, is who will be at your birth? The people in your birth space should make you feel calm, safe, and loved. If they do not, if there are red flags, or stress, or pain in their presence they should not be there period. This is an intimate moment, a time where you need to focus completely on what is best for YOU. Not for your hubby, or grandma, or anyone else. What makes you feel safe, is what matters. You are going to go through a huge transition on this day, its going to be a battle, and you need to surround yourself with people who will strengthen you- not hold you back or make you feel self conscious. You always always have the right to ask people to leave, or even not tell them your birthing in the first place. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. This is your day, these are your rights.
Some women really feel empowered when they can birth with other women surrounding them. Some benefit from the strength of masculine energy. Think about who makes you feel safe, and relaxed, who you can laugh around unhindered and unconsciously comfortable. Those are the people you need in your space. Or, maybe the person you need the most is yourself. Birthing and laboring alone, is a very valid option as well. Also take into account medical staff if your having a hospital birth. You can choose to let staff observe at teaching hospitals, or choose to ask for as little people as possible in the room during delivery. This is your choice.
Lets talk about environment.
Take a moment, and picture a place where you feel relaxed, where you can let go of stress. What does it look like? How does it feel? What surrounds you there?
Now, take that perfect place, where you feel your best, where you can be yourself, and find a way to bring that into your birth plan.
Making the space your own, no matter where you birth, can change the flow of your labor in the most positive ways. Below are some tips, some things that I find make for a beautiful and peaceful birth space, and some ways you can make the space work for you and your labor. These are all for any type of birth. You always always have options.
-Bring Nature into your birth space. Plants, leaves, green. Its scientifically proven that being in a room filled with plants can reduce stress and increase productivity and good hormones. Plus having oxygen producing plants can have a great benefit during your breathing in labor, reducing toxins and purifying the air.
-Light. I love natural sunlight. open windows, feel the breeze, let that light in. Or, turn the lights off, get into a quiet space, and tune into the light within, let your primal instincts take over. Try different things before, see which calms you and which gives you strength and make those a part of your birth plan. You can also bring string lights, tealights, or colored lights into your space to inspire a mood.
-Get rid of the clutter. anything that looks noisy, messy, or stresses you out has to go. In home birth this could look like dedicating your birth space and removing things to other rooms. In hospital this could look like turning away the monitors(you ARE allowed to do this), asking for unnecessary furniture to be removed, some hospitals will even let you turn the bed sideways to labor freely in the open space.
-Give yourself labor options. A birth ball, a bed, a shower, something to lean on or pull on. Options help so much during a long labor to change things up and get moving. Many hospitals have birth balls, birth peanuts, and birth squat bars that hook to the bed.
-Find meaningful things, and bring them with you to your birth. At home this is easy. In hospital it could be a favorite blanket or pillow, a stuffed animal (no your not too old) Bring things you find comfort in. You are totally allowed to make the space your own! don't be afraid to! You could even bring a tapestry, or artwork to inspire the space.
-Apparel. What will you wear? A scratchy hospital gown? Did you know you can wear your own gown even in hospital births? You can purchase gowns that are soft, comfortable, and birth friendly! Feel good, look good, be free. You can even just wear a bralette, or a t-shirt, or by all means walk around in the nude. Do you mama. No apologies.
-Music! This can drastically change any birth space. Music can relax you, motivate you, and really just get rid of any negative energy. Dancing helps baby transition down so beautifully. Music can really change the vibe in the room, and shift your mindset. I like to have songs on every now and then, not constantly. Make a list and pull it out when you need it most to have the best effect. I have a playlist on my phone for every birth just in case. Soft labor songs, push you to dance labor songs, or worship songs are my go to list ideas. This also gives you the chance to bond with baby, creating the list for them in advance. Babies benefit so much from music both before and after birth.
-Prayer. I am very sensitive to spiritual energy, and sometimes we cant help whats been in a room before us, sometimes it lingers, sometimes people bring baggage with them. Praying over your space, physically touching the door frames and bed frames and windows, can be so so powerful and often overlooked. I like to pray that a room is filled up with the spirits of God, peace, love, joy, and that any other spirit that is not of God is not welcome, rebuked. I like to pray for peoples energies to be checked at the door like a bouncer, and I always ask God to fill a space so full with his spirit that there is no room for anything else. Labor is so spiritual, and its so important to protect that space. Praying for your labor in advance can also help, praying for specific things to happen, or for a spirit to be over it (like peace). Even if you are not religious, the mind is powerful and often what you focus on (be it fear or peace) usually manifests itself in the future, your mind creates more of whats meditated on. So fill your mind with what you want your labor to look like instead of what you don't want or are afraid of.
-Language. Having a cesarean? Change the language, its every bit as much of a magical birth as vaginal is. Ask people to not call it a c-section, ask them to call it a cesarean birth. Or ask them to use positive languages and stories. You have control of how people are speaking about you and around you, and if something bothers you speak up, this is your space. There are also hundreds of other ways to make a cesarean birth family centered, or your own. So many options, you just have to learn them and sometimes push for them to be considered.
-Aroma. Smell. I love bringing essential oils into birth with me, they can have such a powerful effect on our mind body and spirit.
If your not into oils that's ok! I saw one client bring fresh baked chocolate chip cookies- because the smell made her feel at home! Get creative!
-TV. SO OFTEN I see clients birth to judge judy or something just because they were afraid to turn off the tv. This is your space, protect it, own it, and know that your comfort is MOST important here. Don't let negative tv or music or news stories to enter your space. You don't have the energy to spare to waste emotions on things outside this room and this space.
-After birth. This one is not often thought about, but you can plan for after your birth too! Put some comfortable clothes into your birth bag, something to change into after its all over. sweatpants, a robe, slippers. Something for you, and your birth partner. Baby benefits from being without clothes (skin to skin) but bring a pretty swaddle blanket, your own baby hat. If you are keeping your placenta consider a placenta bag! Amazing for lotus births, or partial lotus births (waiting to clamp the cord until after placenta is delivered). You can also plan for lotions, massages, and more. Ill write on postpartum planning another day, there is SO much you can do to make this time easier and more comfortable.
No matter what, don't be afraid to ask for too much, or be too much. You are not too much. Your plan is not too much. Your desires matter. Your mental health matters. Your birth space matters.
What are some things you did to create the birth space you needed?