The Birth Plan: Exploring your Choices, Defining your Preferences.

Throughout the next several posts, let’s do some exploring, excavating, playing with and planning. We’re going to work on your Birth Plan.

Of course, “plan” is the word we often use. But I’d like to change that. Let’s call what we’ll be working on your Birth Preferences. Because no matter how we plan in our minds, remember, our body, our baby, our situation, our circumstances, our attendants, even our higher powers and deeper connections may have another plan for us, or have ideas that affect the unfolding of our plans. And yet, without plans, we may not be addressing our needs and comforts. Without plans, we may not be fully considering our dreams and desires, and thus not making the most of this sacred event. Without plans, we may find ourselves feeling we’re not prepared, not present, not honoring ourselves and our baby, and in retrospect, somewhat disappointed, frustrated, even wounded. Birth wounds, not just to the body, but to the soul, can be real. For those who have birth wounds, let us honor these and address them with care and compassion. We’ll discuss this more in future posts, because this truly matters. And as with all wounds, we know it is best to heal wounds before birth, as unhealed or cared for wounds have a tendency to surface in birth.

Plans – or expressed preferences – can help us prevent this from happening. And more than that – plans and preferences can help us prepare for the most beautiful birth we imagine. They may not predict how the birth will actually happen, but they can help us prepare for how we, and those present with us, work through the great emergence of birth. In other words, no matter how the birth uniquely transpires, your Birth Preferences may serve to set you up for the safest, most comfortable, most honorable, most joyful welcoming of this new life.

And so, let’s spend some time working on your Birth Preferences. Let’s explore and spell out clearly what you would like for this Sacred Transformation, this birth.

 

The concept of choice.

Today, we have choices. May we always! For it is through choice we learn, grow and evolve. No choice means no decisions, and thus no ability to morally figure out and understand your own sense of consequence, responsibility, right and wrong. Without choice, there is also no ability to express our own personal core beliefs, which may grow from social, cultural, familiar, spiritual, educational and other influencing realms.  Without choice, we simply follow. And just following is rarely the path to growth, creation, the natural process of change, spiritual understanding, personal and social evolution.

Maybe that’s deeper than we need to go. For now, let’s just look at choices in birth. Today there are a lot of choices. And sometimes that gets overwhelming, bewildering, confusing, and frustrating. Figuring out what means the most to each of us – and what choices we wish to make – is a lot of work. Great – we’ve got time. Let’s take the time to explore and excavate and find out what matters most to you.

Birth is a big decision, one of the biggest you will ever make, and there are a lot of choices involved. Beginning with conception, continuing pregnancy, birthing options, and parenting styles. Oh, you know that list goes on and on!

For now, let’s try to keep this somewhat simple and just look at the choices involved in the actual birth. At the very least, if you have not yet already, you will have to make choices for the three main decisions: where to birth (home, birthing center, hospital, other locations), how to birth (naturally or medically or somewhere in between), with whom to birth (will you have a caregiver, and if so, who that will be; and who you would like to attend this birth).

But before we even address those choices, let’s start with this: It’s up to you. For many, it is a family choice, one you are comfortable sharing with your partner. Yet the choice is ultimately yours. You may choose to be respectful and sensitive to partners’ desires and decisions as this may also involve their baby; however this is your body, your birth. How you choose to handle your partner, if he or she chooses (and you choose) to involve him or her – yes, this is your first choice. So first, let us take a quick look at that. Your partner. Your relationship.

 

Your partner/Your relationship

This is an important consideration to clarify up front, because your partner and your personal relationship may affect your choices in birth, and should be honored as it works for you and your unique relationship and situation. In whatever way you chose to include your partner in this process, may we be respectful and honorable. May we be wholly open to all relationships as long as they are based on love, caring and mutual respect. Every relationship is unique as is every human being. May we honor you and yours. May we honor your feelings and your choices, in whatever way you wish to include your partner in your decisions, in your birth.

Remember – there is no one right way. For this birth, there is only your way. Let us explore what your way will be. What you want, what feels right, what would be supportive, what would be deeply meaningful, what you feel would be essential, what you know you could gladly do without. Let us not make assumptions. And let us honor personal and cultural preferences – and on the other hand, let us be open to change. To receive. To respect the choices and uniqueness in every women, every relationship, every birth.

Your relationship, your partner, may be a part of all choices you make for the unfolding of this of this birth. This shall be your first choice, and one that may affect all others.

 

Before you begin making all those other choices…

It is seemingly human nature to plan. We can’t help ourselves – we just do! We plan. We look ahead. Set goals. Spell out our path clearly… and then (hopefully) adjust accordingly as that path changes.

There are times we need to do this, to make plans and do our best to stick with them, or our work may not get done, education left incomplete, commitments left blowing in the wind, and dinner won’t appear on the table.

So yes, sometimes we do need to plan, and to work to follow through with our plans. Not doing so would be irresponsible, inefficient, and offensive. It can also be downright foolish and dangerous.

On the other hand, we know too there are times our “best made plans” are left alone, and we (and those around us) are better of flowing with however things unfold. We follow a greater plan, if you will, but not yours! It is often these times that lead us to and through the great unknown, and through some of the wildest rides of life.

Birth is one of those times.

There is a time to plan, and a time to let go.

A time for the tree to hold tight to its leaves, and a time to let them fly in the wind.

Now is the time to plan.

Birth is the time to let go.

Does this make sense?

I ask that you hold this idea in your heart, dearly, strongly, and feel it completely. And then let it go. Like your plans. For at birth, plans will no longer matter. If you hold to them then, you are holding too tight, and the natural process of birth may be hindered. Birth is the time of releasing. Can you really release your plans? Yes, I believe you can. Especially if you’ve fully explored and expressed your preferences ahead of time. That’s like doing your homework, or your research, well and showing up on the scene prepared. To be most present, most free, most flowing with the wild, ecstatic, powerful and free energy that is birth, please do your preparations ahead of time… then you must let go and allow it to be as it will be.

So with the following posts we’re going to dive deeply into a discussion on plans – your choices, options, ideas, and dreams. We’re going to get your plans together. In your mind, on paper, whatever you want to do. Over the next few weeks you might continue to make arrangements to best ensure your plans pan out. Be wise, be practical, be prepared. Gather supplies, make connections, pull the details together, set things up, make arrangements, and build the foundation upon which the birth may unfold. That’s common sense and being responsible.

And then I ask this of you. When you are done, when the work is done, release it. Your plans. All of them. Let them go. When the time is right, when the time is ripe. When your fruit begins to fall from the tree, allow it to unfold as it will. Honor it for being the natural process of which you are simply a part. You are not the great creator or controller. For when it comes to birth, there is you, your baby, and a higher power, a greater force. As much as you may work on planning and preparing over the time remaining between now and the birth unfolding, please work on this. Consider this deeply.

Let go of plans. Make your plans, do your preparations. And at the birth, release it all.

The following passages are from Unhindered Childbirth: Wisdom for the Passage of Unassisted Birth by Sarah M. Haydock

The truth is, you can’t really plan a birth. Birth happens in its own way – it flows through you like wind flowing through the leaves of a tree. It moves you, shakes you, rocks you, but largely it is a power beyond your control.

Essentially, the power of birth is not something you can plan for. When birth comes, it is like a spirit moving through you. The best thing you can do is to let go of your beliefs, plans and ideas about birth and listen to that power in your body. The best thing you can do is to surrender to that earth-shaking power, and let it guide you.