The Esali Birth Perinatal Pocket Guide is member's only resource; a pocket doula guide for pregnancy, birth, and the first weeks postpartum.  This easy to navigate pregnancy guide can be easily viewed on your phone or printed on index cards.  The labor guide is a great labor bag reference for dads, birth partners, and doulas.

Perinatal Pocket Guide Includes:

  • Prenatal Wellness Tips
  • Baby Alignment Tips
  • Pregnancy Discomfort Remedies
  • Pregnancy Belly Mapping Tips
  • Early Labor Tips
  • Early Labor Progression Tips
  • Active Labor Tips
  • Active Labor Progression Tips
  • Birthing (Pushing) Tips
  • Birthing (Pushing) Progression Tips
  • Placenta Uses
  • Unassisted Emergency Birth Tips
  • Breastfeeding Latch Tips

 Join the Free Birth Community!

visual birth guide Esali Birth

A birth guide can be a valuable tool in the birth space.  Often referred to as a birth plan, the birth guide terminology is often better received by providers as it implies the acknowledgment that births cannot be planned.  The birth plan term has a bad reputation due to the way they are all too often presented and used.  Often in a militant perspective, families present a birth plan with the believe that a signature on that plan will guarantee a certain style of birth.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  You are in all ways encouraged to utilize all of your legal rights for choosing the birth that you desire.  You have every protected right to speak up, request, refuse, or delay any procedure.  You have the legal right to get up, sign yourself out of a facility, and birth at home or another location as well.  Providing your birth team with a holistic visual birth guide helps start the conversation to reduce unnecessary additions to the birth guide and keeps a flexible approach to the changes of normal labor.

The key with using a birth guide is to choose a birth environment (birth team and location) that supports your birth philosophy.  A birth guide should never be used as a means of changing the way someone practices.  If you need a contract to tell someone how to attend a birth... that's a huge red flag for you not being in a space that is knowledgeable or respectful of your birth philosophy. A birth guide is a reminder for your birth team to support you in the way you desire.  At times, your birth location and care provider may be more than happy to accommodate your wishes but routinely practice in a different way, in which case, a birth guide acts as a reminder to those supporting mom to speak up during these times and remind the care team of any changes.  A doula supporting a wide range of births in a wide range settings will enjoy having a copy of your birth guide to ensure your individual wishes are met.

Esali Birth has free holistic visual birth guides for download that include all of the most common requests for family-centered birth with spaces for you to fill in your individual care suggestions and emergency birth location requests.  Selecting a support environment first reduces all unnecessary interventions.  Requesting minimal interventions of any kind allows you to have more control over the procedures - even if later you decide to have a few, or all of the, interventions available.  Requesting your care team ask your permission for any procedures (which is what they should legally be doing anyway) vs. asking them to just limit procedures, provides you with the opportunity to decline as well as request a procedure and be the leading person in your birth (as it should be). Ultimately, if your birth choices have placed you in a concerning situation and you feel like you need to tell the providers and birth location how to perform every aspect of their job - it is time to explore other options.  Change practices with your choices - this is the most effective way.  If we bow to an environment's routines when we don't agree with them, they're getting paid and they'll still perform those routine procedures.  If we set ourselves up for demanding and arguing in labor, we reduce not only the positive view on our birth but the safety of our birth due to heightened adrenaline.  If we intentionally select our birth location based on compatibility, a happy healthy birth is created and the more women approach birth choices in this way, the more policy changes we see.  These options may include changing obstetricians, switching to midwifery care and should always include exploring home birth options.  The more aware you are of all the ranges of options, the more choices you have.  In most locations there are providers who offer fully respectful and individual-oriented care without you needing a birth guide for biological birth choices.

Download the birth guide from the My Journey page.

Looking for guidance developing your personal birth guide or learning about your birth philosophy?  Contact to schedule mentoring sessions via Skype or locally in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

photo from

Birth guides, or birth plans, are lists that lay out your priorities for labor and the immediate postpartum. Whether at home or in the hospital, these can become great communication tools for your birth team (which includes your birth partner, doula(s), assistants/nurses, and your provider). What is important to keep in mind, however, is that a birth guide should only be used as a reminder and only *after* you’ve carefully selected your birthing environment and birth team.

A birth guide cannot fix choices that don’t support your idea of a healthy and happy birth.

What does a birth guide include?

  • Introduction – Brief information about you and often accompanied with a box of cookies for the nursing staff. Baking homemade cookies are a great early labor activity.
  • Labor Wishes – Include priorities such as your wishes for natural or medicated birth, ability to move and eat as you wish, and suggestion preferences from the birth team (including staff/provider) on how to birth your baby.
  • Birth & Newborn Care Wishes – Will you allow the cord to stop pulsing on its own? Will you avoid vaccines or eye treatments? Have someone remind the staff that they are required to ask your permission before performing any procedures on you or the baby. Sometimes, this is overlooked. Will you allow the placenta birth to come naturally?
  • Emergency & Cesarean Birth – Do you want to watch your baby being born? Which hospital would you prefer to be transferred to in case of an emergency? Which hospital would you prefer your newborn transfer to in case of an emergency?

There is a lot to think about, so start taking notes now. Find a provider (if you wish) and birth location that matches your belief of safety, health, and happiness for your baby and your family. Then, narrow down your priorities and consider alternative options for when birth takes a different course. This is why Esali Birth likes to refer to this as a birth “guide” and not a “plan.” You can’t plan biological birth – but you can prepare for it!

Keep your birth guide to no longer than a page, and only list simple bullet points that are easy to read and understand.  Remember that if you're birthing in a hospital, the team probably has multiple other mothers they're working for and a lot of paperwork to complete.  Take a hospital tour to get to know some of the staff before hand and know more of what to expect from the facility so you can better judge your choices.  If you're at home, your birth team likely has taken a lot of time already to understand your vision for birth. If you exceed a page, you might want to consider changing your location and/or care provider to better match your wishes.

To learn more about all the options you have for birth, and in depth details on how your choices influence your baby and your birth, take an Esali Birth perinatal education class locally or online!


Make choices that support your birth. If you want to be treated like you’re at home, then stay home. If you want medical support, go to the hospital. If you want a biological birth, don’t hire anyone to “take care of you and give you suggestions.”

Labor begins…. slowly, but I quickly realize this is labor. My first labor’s early stage was drawn out because of my inability to believe that I was actually in labor… I was not allowing myself to go into the moment, and begin the experience. Contractions were slow to start, and for a good 12 hours I kept thinking to myself “Is this labor? I’m not really sure…”



Tell me your story. I'd love to help you have a happy healthy birth!

    • Subscribe error, please review your email address.


      You are now subscribed, thank you!


      There was a problem with your submission. Please check the field(s) with red label below.


      Your message has been sent. We will get back to you soon!