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Code words and phrases are an awesome tool for use during labor and birth! My clients and I usually choose a code word and phrase at our prenatal visits and there are 3 ways we use them.

PLAN B

The most common way for a pregnant person to use a code word is when she decides it is time to invoke Plan B. The code word allows mom full control of her birth plan. There can be no misunderstandings or implied consent to medicinal pain relief.

You may desire a drug-free birth but want to know that you can change your mind. Perhaps you knows that your body is made for birthing, but your friends have all told you that when it comes down to it you are going to want an epidural. A code word helps you to express that you are ready to invoke Plan B. Some women even find it a helpful coping mechanism to ask for an epidural or other pharmacological pain relief and this allows you to do so without confusing anyone. It also gives you time to think about it if you makes the request in a moment of intensity. As long as you don’t say the code word, your birth team knows to continue with Plan A.

If you find you do want to move onto Plan B, all you have to do is say the word!

“Pineapple!” “Lipstick!” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”

MANAGING SUPPORT PEOPLE

Did you feel obligated to invite your sister into your birth space? Does your mother in law insist on being present for the birth of her first grandchild? Are you worried about how “supportive” she is really going to be?

A code word can cue your partner or doula to assist with managing support people. During your prenatal visit we can discuss what your code word will be if your space is no longer feeling like your own. If your best friend is suddenly too opinionated I have a selection of “very important” tasks and errands she can be made feel useful to do and no one will be the wiser.

RED ALERT!

A code word or phrase can be used to alert you or your partner that something is happening in your labor space that you may want to ask questions about or pay attention to. If you really do not want an episiotomy but I hear the other members of your birth team are discussing it as a possibility, I can use a previously discussed phrase to alert you or your partner to pay attention. This will allow you both to seek more information if you wish. This word or phrase would apply to any changes to your birth plan that you may want to know more about and that it appears you may not be aware of. These kinds of things don’t always need a code word though, a simple “Your doctor would like to perform an episiotomy. What questions do you have for her?” will suffice. If you’d prefer a more discreet note, though, a code word or phrase would be appropriate.
Did you use a code word for labor and birth? What was your code word and how did you use it?
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