Mind, Body, Health: Birth Preferences, Birth Plans & B.R.A.I.N.

Posted on August 09 2019

Black and white photo of a naked pregnant belly with hand placed on top and bottom of bells. Cloth is draped above and below hands to cover remainder of body showing.

I wanted to chat about what I see in my day-to-day work as a doula. One thing I’ve found that carries a lot of weight for some people is the phrase “Birth Plan.”  Even though deep down they know that birth plans change, I feel the word itself makes it harder it let it go in the event that something unexpected happens. Rather than plan, I think we should shift the focus to the word “preference.” 


I am going to put the definitions for both words here.

 

*Plan - A method for achieving an end.

*Preference - A greater liking for one alternative over another or others.

 

Before I dive into this further, I’d like to take the information and apply the acronym BRAIN. This is very helpful when you are having your baby and the doctor or midwife comes to you with anything from a suggestion to a hard-set plan. Let’s break BRAIN down:

 

“B”ENEFITS -  what are the benefits of choosing this option?

“R”ISKS -  Are there risks involved? What are the potential risks?

“A”LTERNATIVES - What alternatives are there that may work better for me?

 “I”NTUITION-  What is your inner voice telling you? Your gut feeling.

“N”EED TIME/NOTHING – As long as there is not an emergency, you can say could you give me a few more minutes to decide. Or you can ask what happens if you decide to do nothing at this time. 

Infographic for Brain. Birth Brain- helping you decide your next move. “B”ENEFITS -  what are the benefits of choosing this option?  “R”ISKS -  Are there risks involved? What are the potential risks?  “A”LTERNATIVES - What alternatives are there that may work better for me?   “I”NTUITION-  What is your inner voice telling you? Your gut feeling.  “N”EED TIME/NOTHING – As long as there is not an emergency, you can say could you give me a few more minutes to decide. Or you can ask what happens if you decide to do nothing at this time. To the side of text is a black and white photo partially showing a newborn baby. Half of face with hand in seen.  

Birth is truly amazing, but there can be unpredictable circumstances you did not plan for. That’s why you should take a deep breath look at the acronym BRAIN before you decide your next move! You have to be ready and flexible for anything that comes your way even when having a Birth Preference.


Let’s take this as an example: The nurse tell you you need to hop in bed in order for her to get a good tracing of baby’s heart because the baby is not tolerating the position you were in. In this instance what do you think you would do?


You could hop in bed and your partner or doula can use other techniques to help you manage your contractions while in bed. 


You can get in bed into a position you find manageable and ask the nurse if she is able to get a good tracing this way or if baby is better tolerating labor in this position.

 

As I said before, Birth Plans can carry an unnecessary weight that the birthing person may then carry with them after the birth. This is especially true if the birth did not go as planned. This can make healing from a traumatic birth or a birth that did not go as planned harder to deal with and work through. This does not apply to all, but I have seen it happen. Even from my own personal experience I feel this way.

 

“Birth Preferences” leave the door open a bit for changes that may occur. It feels a bit more flexible and open-ended. This seems to carry less weight. If there is a traumatic birth or a birth that did not go as planned the birthing person does not carry the full burden that their preference went wrong or they could not control it. Again this does not apply to all. 

 

How to make it work for you: When writing your Birth Preference or Plan keep it simple! Nurses do not have time to read a short story! To keep it super simple use a visual birth plan. Here is a link for one.


https://www.mamanatural.com/birth-plan-template/

 

Think about hiring a doula. Ask around in parent groups for names in your area. Interview a few to see who you feel connected with and if you feel they will be a good fit. Remember this person will be holding your birth space during the most sacred special time in your life. I cannot stress more that the doula you pick should fit right into your birthing team. Doulas are invaluable for those that choose to hire them!  Again not everyone needs a doula, some couples are more than perfect with just them and their birth team!

 

Think about making a list of preferences for after your new baby is born so you’re not caught up in the throes of the postpartum period and adjusting to having a newborn.


Some examples to think about:


  • Do you want visitors right away?
  • Are you comfortable with family and friends handing your newborn?
  • Set up a meal train with family and friends for after birth so you do not to have to think about cooking for your family.
  • Take friends and family up on their offer to help around the house.
  • If you’re not comfortable asking family or friends look into hiring a postpartum doula. They are invaluable during this period of transition, as many help with food prep, newborn care, many can help with any breastfeeding or bottle-feeding questions.

 

On a final note remember, birth is amazing but can be unpredictable!


Enjoy this time of your life!



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