Birth plans: Who are they for anyway?
I’ve just finished writing my birth preferences… and I must say doing so makes me feel empowered and so much more excited for the actual event of our little darling’s birth.
Yes, I know I am going to get to gaze at, and breathe in, and hold our sweet boy to my chest soon – and that in itself makes me deliriously happy – but I’m now also really looking forward to the process of bringing him from the inside out. Birth is thrilling and amazing and so worth our excited anticipation!
When I had Levi I didn’t have a birth plan. I had been with my midwife for the entire pregnancy and she knew what I wanted and what I didn’t. I completely trusted her and I relied upon her expertise a lot. It worked for me and I didn’t really see the need to write a plan out or what the big deal was.
This pregnancy I am unable to go through the Birthing Centre like I did last time. Because of my emergency c-section with Levi (after I had already been in active labor for some time) I’m now classified as “high risk” (which I think is slightly absurd to be honest!). But because I’m “high risk” it means I now must go through the hospital, which is fine, but it does mean that I don’t have the continum of care that I enjoyed with my last pregnancy. (My other option would be to hire a midwife and have a homebirth, which I think is fantastic for some ladies, but I’m not personally comfortable with it.)
Going through our public health system means that when I visit the OB or midwives clinic… I see whoever is on call that day. And when I go in for labor and delivery… I get assigned to whatever midwife and OB is on call for that shift. There’s no continuity of care at all and you’re basically at the mercy of [well-trained] strangers. (Note: although it’s not ideal, I’m not complaining – the Australian public health care system is excellent and has never cost us a dollar for delivery, hospital stay, and all pre- and post-natal care… unless you count our taxes of course!)
But with the system as it is currently set-up, it means that I don’t have that same sense of “team” or familiarity or security that I enjoyed with my last pregnancy. I think this is a huge disadvantage to being comfortable and relaxed and feeling empowered during the whole process. It’s meant that I’ve had to work much harder at preparing myself mentally and emotionally for birth this round… even though it’s my second go.
After much research and consideration I’ve decided that I will be trying for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and I hope to give birth as naturally as possible – without induction, augmentation, medication, or other interventions. For personal reasons I believe that’s what’s best for my baby and I. (Please know that I believe each woman must come to her own personalized conclusions and I fully support women’s choice to determine her own birth preferences, which could vary widely from mine!)
Of course I understand that anything can happen in birth and it’s my responsibility to be prepared to accept that. (Since I’ve experienced an unplanned c-section I’m already very familiar with being presented with the unexpected!) But it’s also my responsibility to be educated about the process and to know in advance what will give me and my baby the best possible birth given the circumstances.
One thing I know about birth for sure – the more knowledge I have, the less room there is for fear. Women were created to give birth and I want to walk in that assurance with full confidence!
Creating my birth plan has been more about me than my caregivers. It’s forced me to think through possible scenarios, research medications and interventions (their benefits and risks), familiarize myself with birth-related terminology so that things aren’t flying over my head, and learn so much more about how my body is designed to work in childbirth.
Since I am going into a birth situation with people who won’t know me or my preferences from the next lady’s, yes, this “plan” is for them – to help guide them in providing the care that will suit me and my family best. But even more than that it’s for me and for Ryan – so that we both know what we want ahead of time and as well as to ensure that we can help shape our experience rather than having it all dictated to us.
For me, I believe this is the best possible way for a happy, healthy, beautiful birth experience… and I’m excited about it!
If you’re curious, here are the categories I’ve included in my plan:
- labor medication/monitoring/procedures
- immediately after delivery
- postpartum and breastfeeding
- in the event of an unplanned c-section
I’ve kept it to one page with short and sweet bullet points in each category, and have prefaced it with this:
I understand that labor and birth are unpredictable and ultimately want the health and safety of both the baby and I to take precedence. Except in extreme emergency, I request that procedures be explained thoroughly (benefits and risks) and I would like to be included in the decision-making process. My husband – Ryan Booker – will be present with me, as well as another support person. Below are items that are important to me. All of the requests are for a normal labor, birth, and postpartum period. Your help with these is very much appreciated.
Only six weeks to go until we meet our precious second-born son! I’m now not only looking forward to meeting him… but also the process of birthing him into his glorious future as he meets the world for the first time.
Dear friends, how about you? Did you write a “birth plan” or “birth preferences”? Why or why not? Did it prove helpful for you in preparing for your labor and delivery? And did it help you in the midst of your birthing experience? What were the most important things you that included?