Birth Intentions versus Birth Plans

Part of preparing for childbirth for many people is to create a birth plan explaining the things that they want and don’t want to happen during their birth. Often times these plans can be quite long and involve many important aspects with regard to different birthing interventions, preferences and support.

In our current birth climate we are hearing many more woman beginning to voice their discontent with how they were treated during their birth: forced interventions, medical personnel ignoring valid requests and even going so far as using unnecessary violence and causing birth trauma.
Is it any wonder that pregnant people are trying to protect themselves with a plan to avoid this if at all possible?

Birth should not be something that we need to protect ourselves from. We should definitely be informing ourselves of our options and discovering what our preferences are but we should also be delving deeper within to connect with our own personal intentions for birthing our baby. When we go that extra step we find what truly matter to us. What the things we will not compromise on are. The answers you find hidden deep within may surprise you.

Every birth parent deserves respect, acknowledgement, right to agency and treatment that is fair and unbiased. There should be no need to arm themselves with a plan to protect their wishes and hopes for a better birth.

So how does creating an intention list differ from a birth plan. Well we all know that even the bestlaid plans of mice and men often go awry! A birth that doesn’t go according to plan can lead to much suffering, regret, recriminations and blame – both of oneself and of others. Holding an intention for birth can be a much more freeing experience, more inclusive and no matter what is happening, you can continue to hold yourself true to your intention.

Birthing parents come to their birthing location filled with love for their unborn child, hope for the future and trust in those around them. Deep within them, they carry the seeds of their intentions and with the right support and emotional nourishment these seeds grow. So what does a birth intention list look like in practicality?

A birth warrior comes to the birthing space ready to be present to the birth of their child. They hold the intention to birth with power and love in all instances. The twists and turns of labour may throw a few curve balls and certain preferences are no longer possible. For example the waterbirth room is occupied so NO waterbirth! The birthing pair can choose to hold on to their intention to birth with power and meet each contraction with increased determination and focus. Even if labour becomes overwhelming and the need for pain assistance is necessary, the intention to birth with power and love can continue. It is not diminished because of the alternate path the birth has taken. In fact it becomes enhanced because in this space the birthing couple can do what they intended to do and bring love and power to the situation, no matter what.

It is in this space that the intention you set work their magic. You cannot fail your truest intentions. If you have worked on them, they will be there to guide you in a way that a birth plan never could. This in no way implies that if things are deviating from a person’s preferences, that all is well. You may not like what is happening but you are willing to engage with it to bring yourself and everything you have to this moment to help see you through it. There is power and courage and bravery with a whole lot of being scared and terrified too in this. And that is ok. We would be foolish to think that we can go through any of this and not feel a healthy dose of worry, concern or fear. The point here is how are you moving through these emotions that can completely overwhelm at times?

Preparing to bring your truest intentions to birth is not a quick fix. It is something you cultivate over time, through deep soul searching and introspection, coupled with many discussions with your closest support person. You intention list is personally yours, there are no crib notes or ready made templates. It is a work that arises from your own needs and heart. It is intensely personal and specific to you as a person. As you seek your answers it may be helpful to ponder on the following questions below? Indeed I encourage you to add other questions to your list so that you can finely tune what your truest intentions are.

“What is your deepest intention for birthing your baby?”
” What emotion do you want to bring to your birth?”
” What qualities do you want to bring to your birth”
“How might this emotion/quality/intention serve you at any time during your birth?”
” If the unexpected happened, could you bring your intention to that moment to help you navigate the changing territory of birth?”
“What would you need to do/hear/see to be reminded to hold your deepest intentions during your labour and birth?”
” How might your birth intention keep you present and in the moment to continue doing whatever it is you need to birth your baby into the world?”

Sample of a birth Intention list created by Rosalia Palazzo Pihlajasaari