4a. Informed Choices: Informed Consent, Family Rights, and 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.


    • Raft and the Waves (exercise)

    • Understanding Birth in America and Family Responsibility

    • What is Informed Choice?
      • Choosing for Our Family
      • Provider + Place of Birth
      • Public Health + Individualized Care
      • Institutional Systems + Family Centered Care
    • Creating Birth Preferences / Plans

    • Patient Rights
      • Informed Consent + Refusal
      • Understanding Hospital Policy
    • Direct Advocacy Strategies
      • Teambuilding
      • Skilled Language
      • B.R.A.I.N (exercise)
      • Trauma Reduction Tools
    • Practice belly breathing or raft + waves
    • Prepare 3 questions for next prenatal appointment with practitioner
      • Consider using the B.R.A.I.N acronym
      • Consider asking for “more time” to think about options
    • Practice advocating for yourself
    • at home, work or other setting; start with small, easier things + then build up to more challenging ones.
    • Watch Interventions + Procedures Video
    • Watch Cesarean Sections Video
    • Set up two hour-long sessions to work on your birth preferences
      • Discuss values + wishes
      • Create list of questions for practitioners/research
      • Draft Initial copy
      • Utilize:
        • WEB APP chapters 5 + 6
        • Hyperlinked Resource Doc
        • Conversations with Doula + Medical Team
    • Explore “Decreasing Emotional Trauma in Birth” Exercises in workbook 
    Open Circle offers prenatal massage as well as postpartum massage with baby in Providence, Rhode Island

    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 wanted you to hear from us what a difference you made in his birth.  Because you helped me articulate to — what I needed during birth and gave my partner the tools to provide it, our second baby’s birth was vastly different from our first’s.  My husband was my rock, for hourse at home before our doula arrived, and then continue to support me for hours at the hospital until — was born.  

    It has been a long time since we worked so hard for each other, and this birth was a powerful reminder of what we’re capable of as a couple. 
    – E+M, Cranston

    Even though we were pregnant the second time around, my husband and I found the Contemplative Birthing Workshop hugely beneficial. Kaeli is a wonderful teacher with a huge base of knowledge, a warm personality and great sense of humor. We learned tons of valuable info from hands-on laboring techniques and positions (that we actually used during labor!) to in depth knowledge about homebirth, hospital birth and everything in between. In addition, it was an excellent way for us, as a couple, to spend some dedicated time together focusing on the pregnancy. 
    -J + W, New York