4a. Informed Choices: Informed Consent, Family Rights + Birth Plans (part 1)

Many families don’t realize the choices or rights they have in birth, or how much engaging in choice-making can impact the health of their births + adjustment to parenthood. Unfortunately, the US maternity and social care systems are widely recognized to inadequately protect the  physical + emotional health of families.

We cannot fully control the maternity care systems we birth in, or the physiology of our own + our baby’s bodies, but WE CAN learn to make choices that support our bodies + respect our values. We will discuss:

  • making choices that reflect our family’s values and wishes
  • choosing your practitioner, birth team and birth location
  • learning how to build engaged + positive relationships with your medical team
  • exploring doula support
  • navigating hospital or practice policies that may impact birth
  • knowing your legal right to consent to or refuse any recommendation or procedure
  • advocating for your family using the B.R.A.I.N. acronym
  • creating a birth plan / preferences document
  • tools for managing anxieties + decreasing psychological trauma-risk

Families taking the individual class or the 7-week series will receive two supplementary videos discussing Common Interventions + Procedures and Cesarean Sections. 9-week participants cover these topics in class.


    Teaching Hiatus

    Thank you for visiting Open Circle and your interest in our center. We are currently on an extended teaching hiatus.

    While away from teaching, we are preparing a self-paced version of our unique, experiential-based childbirth and parenting education courses.

    For parent + baby services in the community, we invite you to visit our local resources page to explore supports from local providers with a range of specialties. For prenatal yoga, please visit Full Radiance Yoga. Additional educational supports can be found on our YouTube page and Series Resources page.

    Over the past 20 years, we have been nourished and had our work deepened through sharing time with each of you. It has been an honor to witness new birth and community between families grow.

    As we enter our own process of gestation, transformation and eventual re-birth, we would love to continue to support thriving connection. Let us know about your family’s adventures, share reflections on your experiences at the center, and reach out for contact information of other families you met while at Open Circle.* Let’s connect!

    *shared only with express permission

    laboring pregnant woman in chair with baby monitor around her belly with male partner behind her

    ©Lisa Gendron | Agroterra Birth


    Raft and the Waves (exercise)

    Understanding Birth in America and Family Responsibility

    What is Informed Choice? (discussion)

    • Choosing for Our Family
    • Provider + Place of Birth
    • Public Health + Individualized Care
    • Institutional Systems + Family Centered Care

    Creating Birth Preferences / Plans

    • Resources for Understanding Procedures + Interventions
    • Exploring Your Preferences
    • What to Include In a Birth Plan
    • Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Communication with Your Medical Team

    Patient Rights

    • Informed Consent + Refusal
    • Understanding Hospital Policy

    Direct Advocacy Strategies

    • Teambuilding
    • Skilled Language
    • B.R.A.I.N (exercise)
    • Trauma Reduction Tools

    ©Lisa Gendron | Agroterra Birth

    And thanks to you, I was able to embrace how our son chose to be born. Though I was looking for a natural home birth, he needed to be born via c-section (his head was lodged in my pelvis and after pushing on and off for about 3 hrs he started to show signs of distress). Because you took the time to teach us about c-sections, and the choices we have, the integrity of our birth plan remained in tact, and I’m peace with his birth story.   

    L. + N.



    “I first met Kaeli when she took the reins as the lead voice of community activists working to save the Birthing Center at Memorial Hospital.  Her leadership helped drive that mission.  She was a critical organizer for the messaging and social media presence, keeping the core message clear and centered.  She energized the movement tirelessly.  Since then we have worked together to continue Memorial’s core tenets of care at Women and Infants.  Despite the change in circumstances, she remained steadfast in her goals to promote family centered maternity care. She is focused, thoughtful, passionate and powerful.”

    ~ Katherine McCleary, MD,
       Medical Director, Care New England Medical Group, Clinical Assistant Professor, Family Medicine, Brown University Warren Alpert School of Medicine