In my birth support practice, we don’t make “birth plans”. We make birth preference outlines, which are more flexible, and which we realize are not set in stone and can change, just like life and birth, which are living and dynamic processes, and for which change is normal. We don’t create rigid plans that have to then be hypervigilantly guarded against, lest someone should try to make changes to them. Instead, we use our birth planning session as an opportunity to help you become well informed about all your options and alternatives. We paint a beautiful picture of how we wish for your birth to proceed, best case scenario, and then talk about how we can work together to make that happen. It is the educational and creative process of talking, thinking about, learning, and coming up with creative ideas to make your birth the most joyful it can be, that is most important. Not a “plan” which is no more than mere words on a piece of paper, that any light rain could wash away. Our prebirth conference and birth preference outline planning sessions are a time when we can explore, dream, set an intention, an imaginal committment, and in the act of setting it down on our preference outline, we are then creating a visible, tangible, and positive intention for ourselves, toward the creation of a glorious birth.
Once we have taken all the thoughts and dreams in our head and set them down as intentions which we can see and read over, it is also good to revisit our intentions and reinforce them through the creation of a birth journey art journal. The act of writing and making art journal pages about our pregnancy, upcoming labor and birth, and the transition into motherhood, can serve as a form of cognitive reframing which can help to supply a stimulus, a moving force, and resilience to help bring them to fruition. Every time we sit down to write or make art in our journal, we are reinforcing the intentions we have set, and imagining a commitment to their generation, achievement, and accomplishment. This will also go far toward chasing away the scarey what ifs, worst case scenarios, awfulizing, and scarey birth stories our minds like to spin, and which we attach to and continue to negatively ruminate on.
I often offer to my clients a deliciously gratifying guided imagery scenario for those Nasty Birth Naysayers who like to intrude, and leave unmindful fears in their wake. This can also be created as an art journal page, to which you can add as your pregnancy progresses, every time you run into a Nasty Naysayer. Imagine I have given you the gift of a gargantuan mason jar. You may use this jar whenever you encounter someone who is determined to relate their birth horror stories, ridicule or challenge your birth choices, or just generally impart some negative and unedifying story in the face of your upcoming birth. As the Naysayer talks you just nod your head and smile. Little do they know that all the while you are imagining removing the lid from the jar, picking them up , dropping them inside, screwing the lid on tight, and watching them scrabble at the glass, like little mice, to get out. The best part is, you now cannot hear a thing they have to say. This exercise makes for some very satisfying and humorous birth journal pages, which can also serve to help you shake off whatever anxiety they piled on you.
Art making is a whole brain activity which uses non-verbal expressions, gathering from all the senses, the heart, and soul. Art allows us to put away our logical, linear left brain control freak worrier, and invites our more playful, creative, dreamer self to come out and play. When we make art about our intentions, thoughts and desires, we are increasing the likelihood that we will act on, and make changes toward what we intend in a much deeper manner than simply talking about, or writing a birth plan. We may find at times too, that words and verbal expression do not come easily when faced with so many unknowns and completely new transitions. Art making then, can build a bridge between our jumbled or not fully formed thoughts and feelings, and our understanding, elucidation, and interpretation of them, allowing for easier communication, motivation, and action. When words seem inadequate to tell or envision our stories, art making through the use of images and symbols can more easily light the way, and lead us on our successful and transformative journey. . The process of creating a birth journey art journal can help you to not feel carried helplessly away, but rather to create and visualize your birth in conscious choice.
Birth Journey art journals are an important part of our Mindful Birth and Beyond childbirth education Playshops.