The concept of adaptive preferences shows that your preferences may change given the environment that you are in.
For the past 50 years, birthing people have been encouraged to write a clear outline of the birth they intend to have. I believe the idea had good intentions. Parents in the 1970s were just starting to gain more autonomy and participation in the birth they would experience, as opposed to the birthing counterparts in decades prior who were often in Twilight Sleep, or placed unconscious, for the entirety of the birth.
It’s no wonder why parents would want a clear plan of how they would like to experience the birth of their baby. Times have since changed, thank goodness. Any parent that has gone through labor and birth can attest that things usually don’t go exactly as planned for a variety of reasons.
For this reason, I believe that it is important to be educated on the ins and outs of labor, birth and postpartum to get an understanding of what your preferences are. Being educated allows you to make informed decisions regarding your care. This also gives you the opportunity to provide informed consent, meaning you agree to a procedure or intervention knowing ALL consequences, if the need arises.
So you might be wondering, how are birth preferences different from a birth plan? Here’s how I like start:
First, I want you to close your eyes and visualize the positive birth you desire. What does the room look like? Is there natural lighting or is it dimly lit? Who is there with you? What are you listening to? How do you see yourself? Are you moving or walking? In a tub? In bed? How do you see yourself coping with the surges? Create a visual.
Second, I want you to put your vision into words. Describe your vision. How does it make you feel?
Now, let’s break that into digestible pieces. What are your goals? What worries can you discuss with your partner, doula, or provider? What pain management options would you be willing to explore? What labor tools would you like to use? Remember: allow yourself options in case something does not work for you in the moment.
When you are complete, be sure to go over you preferences with your birthing team, including your partner, provider, and any support person/people you expect to be with you. You can even leave a copy in your birthing space or hospital bag for easy reference.
Be sure to grab my FREE Birth Preferences template below. If you would like help getting your birth preferences written, I am always happy to help.