If you are pregnant, you have likely heard of a birth plan. Most birth plans include your choice on monitoring, use of pain management drugs, movement during labor, and other medical procedures. The ideal time to research and discuss these choices is at the beginning of your pregnancy, when you are choosing a care provider and birthing location.
Once you feel confident about your care provider and birth preferences you can begin thinking about your birth goals. Your goals are different from a “plan.” Your goals are what makes your birth special and unique. Your goals are the key to having a purposeful and fulfilling birth.
Thinking about your birth goals is an important step to get you excited about birth and make your experience unique to you. You can start by answering these five questions for yourself:
- What do you want to remember about your birth?
- What do you want to remember feeling?
- How do you want to be treated and supported?
- What would make your birth memorable?
- What would help you best process a change in plans?
Your answers to these questions may be completely different from the next pregnant woman. That’s what special about creating birth goals. Once you have brainstormed on these questions, begin writing down some tools you can use to achieve these goals.
For example, who do you want present at your birth? Do you want your mom and sister alongside your partner and doula there? Or do you want a more private space with just your partner and doula? You may even decide to have a birth photographer present!
Another consideration is your senses. Choose something unique to your personality for each sense. Do you want to be diffusing energizing peppermint or calming lavender? Do you want high energy music playing or a calming instrumental playlist? Do you want to use a picture of you and your partner on your favorite vacation as a focal point or a beautiful bouquet of flowers to focus on during contractions? Do you enjoy a heating pad on your back or a cold washcloth on your forehead? Do you want to wear your own clothes during labor or wear a special necklace or ring gifted to you by a loved one?
Many women also use positive affirmations during labor. You can write cards with encouraging phrases on them such as, “I am getting closer to meeting my baby!” Or “I feel safe and supported.” This may be something you read aloud during labor, or you simply stick under your pillow and you know it is there if you need it. Some women even write their affirmations on a poster and set it up in their labor room for everyone to see and read. You may even have your partner or doula write down a few amazing, awe inspiring moments during labor for you to look back on after.
Birth is unpredictable. Even if you create a concrete birth “plan,” your labor may decide to have a plan of its own. Most women who have experienced labor and birth will tell you that something happened during the process that they did not expect or plan for. Maybe you wanted a natural birth and you ended up getting an epidural. Maybe you hoped for labor to begin spontaneously and you ended up being induced. Even if a C-section is needed for the safest outcome for you and baby, you have choices! You get to choose to make your baby’s birth a positive and special experience. Check out our Birth on Purpose Birth Goals Worksheet to create your own unique list of goals for your birth!
Download here: Birth Goals Worksheet