Simply put, Birth Cartography is a process of careful and well researched birth preparations, allowing you to make informed decisions about your care. These decisions are then documented in your Birth Map.
Cartography (/kɑːrˈtɒɡrəfi/; from Greek χάρτης chartēs, “papyrus, sheet of paper, map”; and γράφειν graphein, “write”) is the study and practice of making and using maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality (or an imagined reality) can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.–wikipedia
Birth Cartography is the science of informed birth preparation, fundamental to effective communication and respectful maternity care. Through the process of Birth Cartography, we develop an understanding of the landscape we are expecting to birth in. We explore not just the physical aspects, but also the political, emotional and social aspects that influence the environment. When we understand this, we can create our own Birth Map.
It was a serendipitous creation, born out of my frustrations with birth plans. Birth plans were falling short: some critical aspects missing, which stemmed from the language. The word plan was preventing conversations., with people saying ‘plans get thrown out the window’. Suggestions of wishes and preferences were reducing women’s input into their own experience, are too easily dismissed and not always realistic.
The term Map, however, opened conversations. Maps have different pathways, and a journey is prepared for based on the possibility that detours may be needed. Instead of wishes and preferences, the focus is on Informed Decisions. The actual decisions are made during the journey, but advanced consideration allows for a less stressful and more aware process. This is reassuring for women, their partners and the care providers.
Key to the process of Birth Cartography, is that women are given the means of informed decision making: The Questions. The book, The Birth Map was written to provide the questions that women need in order to start the conversations they need to have. The woman can determine for herself which questions she needs to ask for her own journey, and build a more realistic understanding of what birth can look like with her chosen care provider.