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Align Your Birth Team

Birth is a physically and emotionally vulnerable time for many, which makes having a birth team that shares your beliefs and values about birth an important task of birth preparation. Take some time to do the following exercise:

List everyone who will be present at your birth, in the birth room with you.

Consider the following:

  • Does (or has) each person you’ve invited support and nurture you in your life?
  • Do you feel emotionally and physically safe and unselfconscious with each of the people listed?
  • Do you know each of their attitudes and beliefs about birth?
  • Do you know how each expects to participate in your birth?
  • What is their motivation for being present?
  • Do you feel they can respect you and your birth space?
  • How do you feel about them being there?

Now, make a list of everyone who will be at the birth location, but not in the birth room.

Consider the following:

  • What is their motivation for being present?
  • How do they expect to participate/stay informed about your birth?
  • Do you feel they can respect you and your birth space?
  • How do you feel about them being there?

Last, make a list of people who won’t be present, but will be informed when you go into labor

Consider the following:

  • What is their motivation for being informed?
  • How do they expect to stay informed about your birth?
  • How do you feel about informing them?

You may find, after considering these lists, that there are friends, family members, or even care providers that may not feel as ‘in tune’ with your birth purpose as you‘d like. How do you navigate bringing your birth team more into alignment?

Aligning Care Providers:

  • Open a respectful dialogue with them about their practice, and what differences you are seeing. Ask them questions about areas or procedures you may be confused or concerned about- if you find that there isn’t time for these questions at a routine appointment, consider making an extra appointment just to sit down and talk.
  • Consider what impact your birth location has on the expectations & attitudes of the providers; what options can you realistically explore to bring things closer to your beliefs?
  • If you find that your provider or birth space just won’t ‘click’, what are your options?

Aligning Friends & Family In The Birth Space:

  • Mindfully explore and let go of your expectations of behaving a certain way in front of people. Birth in awareness of what you need, rather than tailoring yourself to the judgement of others (including your inner judge!).
  • Sit down with them and have clear expectations and guidelines for being a visitor to Laborland. Give them a copy of the Welcome to Laborland handout.
  • If they have an expectation that they will be part of your birth, and you are uncomfortable with their presence, what other role or task of birth can you give them to allow them to actively participate? Examples could include ‘hosting’ the candle circle, preparing the home for when you arrive post birth, caring for other children, collecting and preparing postpartum meals.

Aligning Friends & Family Outside The Birth Space:

  • Pre-plan how will you manage information flow from the labor space, to those waiting for news. Designate a ‘news anchor’; the person who’s job it is to carry news from the birth space, out to the waiting room and beyond.
  • Put together a Labor Candle Circle for those who want to know when you go into labor.
  • Find roles or tasks of birth/postpartum for them to do; postpartum laundry, meal prep, house care, bringing games to the birth place for people who are waiting around to have something to do.

When You Need To Say “No”:

  • Acknowledge that they want to be a part of your birth, that being present or participating is important to them.
  • Thank them for their energy and caring, let them know it means alot to you that they want to be a part of your birth.
  • Gently but firmly set your boundaries. Ex.: ”We have chosen to only have the two of us in the birth room.”
  • Give alternative outlets. Ex.: “Instead, would you please be in charge of our Labor Candle Circle.”

 

Mindfully bringing your birth team into alignment helps create a supportive, uplifting environment for labor, birth & postpartum.

Portions of this article were drawn from the out of print Birthing From Within Keepsake Journal