Its About Doing No Harm
Birth Philosophy - Birth Plan or no Birth Plan. Is it about matching personalities?
Personally, I would like to look at as Birth Philosophy instead of a birth plan, and here is why. The actual planning stage of a birth can be an empowering feeling for most women. Yes, I want that and no I do not want that. I do not even know what that is so NO! So where can there possibly be any harm in this planing for women? In my years of formal education, I learned the harm comes from the different personalities of people, and how those individuals actually view the results of any situation, no two people will see it the same.
One of my favourite books I read in a business class was Personality Plus by Florence Littauer. If after reading this article you find yourself interested, there is an free online quiz attached to the bottom of the page, to find out your personality and how you interact with those around you.
Let me explain what I mean, on individual’s personality type. One in particular is the Organized GOLD personality, some people really need to plan things out completely. "Golds expect to be held accountable and to take responsibility." (Personality Dimensions) Where the next person, in retrospect an Resourceful ORANGE personality type, this type is quite content to let things unfold as things go. "The symbol for Orange is the exclamation point reflecting their high energy, spontaneity and excitement. The colour orange has a vitality and life to it, and it is used to denote dangerous situations reflecting that Oranges like living in the moment." (Personality Dimensions) So where is the harm, let us just plan for the Gold personalities then, right?
Here is the problem, for individuals with a Gold personality who need a blueprint; they also need people to follow the plan or list. When this is not done, they can feel completely let down to the point of the birth being a traumatic birth, even if nothing horrible happens, but in the fact that the goals were not met, therefore, it was a failure.
It leaves us questioning:
- What do you say to a woman, who is upset no one followed her birth plan?
- When she asks her partner and her support team, how could you let this happen?
To the person with a gold personality the anger and frustration is complete valid, she has every right to be upset, because she felt that the plan she created was going to be followed to the letter. Which is not always the case; this happens repeatedly to women in their birth journey. Here is the next part to remember, it is not that the medical team is trying to go against the client’s wishes; it is that the birth process itself had a different plan. We cannot control or bend the birth process to our will, sometimes life simply happens. It is a journey, a dance, a walk that needs to be travelled where we cannot possible foresee every final hurdle. It is my view that a doula's roll it to walk beside the birthing woman offering the support or guidance that is needed, while still honouring the woman and her journey.
Types of Personality and Spirituality
In a Science & Sensibility article called, Teacher Turned Student: Childbirth Education Class, Week Four, by Kimmelin Hull, PA, LCCE the author expresses some of the same concerns. “Unfortunately, as is the case at our local hospital, there is a subversive hatred toward birth plans, paired with the (generally unwarranted) assumption that ‘any woman who walks in here with a birth plan is setting herself up for disappointment—and likely a C-section.” Science & Sensibility
Why this matters in birth is...
...because birth happens to be complicated, things happen, plans change, and sometimes the needs require us to change as well. Do you know how many times, I have heard, “the other doula we interviewed said she could do it?” Personally, it is not about wanting to say yes or no to a family. It is about being able to have a back up PLAN and leave a family doing no HARM. In my work at A Sacred Journey, I want to know if a family ends up transitioning into the hospital like my last few planned home water births, how does that look for them and how can I support the family the best way to feel heard!
Before someone gets upset, I am not saying no to developing a birth plan. I am saying can we create a more fluid strategy. Can we teach our doulas to express that these are (the Rainbows and Butterflies of a birth plan) but sometimes things change. I feel in preparing them to ask questions:
- What do we do if your ideal Home Water Birth turns into a hospital induction because of situations beyond ones control?What parts of the “Rainbows and Butterflies” are truly important? How can the partner and the support team make the transition easier for the birthing woman?
- What parts of the “Rainbows and Butterflies” are truly important? How can the partner and the support team make the transition easier for the birthing woman?
- How can the partner and the support team make the transition easier for the birthing woman?Instead of the possibility of leaving a birthing woman feeling unheard and undervalued within the unexpected turn of events
Throughout the process the birthing woman can find herself in a downward spiral, just because she expected everyone to follow her list or rules.
I see the concepts of being validated and heard in the birthing as part of the plan being left out at times. What I see is one can help plan for all possibilities of the birth process.
- What does a family think the birth should look like at home?
- What would the birth look like at the hospital?
- Lastly, if a caesarean section is required, how can this be done where one still feels heard?
From where I see this, it is about how can I best help them achieve these views. Instead of just saying yes to every idea and plan that a woman has her birth simply to sign the Birth Doula Client. I want to elevate the awareness of informed consent for birthing women. I want my clients to feel heard in their birth. I want them to be satisfied that they had a roll in whatever the unpredictability of the birth process has in store for them and the family.
It is about doing no harm as we help families transition in the journey of parenthood.
Lesley Cressman, RECE, CLD, SBD, Reiki Master
A Sacred Journey, Website
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