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Birth plans: Who are they for anyway?

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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!

{a woefully "old" pregnancy photo - this is me at 27 weeks. i'm now 34... so a tad bit bigger. *wink* time to get out that camera again!}

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:

  • environment
  • labor medication/monitoring/procedures
  • delivery
  • 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?

empowered and excited,

 

 

16 Comments

  • Reply Cameron 28 August 2011 at 10:36 am

    Ok first of all, you look ADORABLE in that picture!! OMG I love it! I’m so jealous & ready for baby #2! LOL

    Second, I am really praying for you that you have a successful VBAC! That would be so great! But no matter what, I’m just praying that baby boy #2 is healthy & happy!!

    As far as birth plans go, my biggest thing is that I didn’t want people to make decisions for me. I wanted to be informed about all my options beforehand so that I would know what it meant if they started talking about possibly needing an emergency c-section or if I decided I wanted medication, I’d know what to ask for & I’d know what to expect. So I think the biggest thing is informing yourself before & making sure you are involved in all decisions. Sounds like you’ve got those things covered!! It’s going to be great!

    • Reply Adriel 29 August 2011 at 1:00 am

      Thanks Cameron… but I’m ashamed it’s so old! I haven’t taken a belly photo in 7 weeks! And I’m headed camping so it probably won’t even be for 8 in total. Poor second child. I’ve tried, I really have!! 🙂

      Yeah, I’d love to have a successful VBAC. Our hospital’s success rate is about 60% so we’ll see how it goes. All I can do is prepare the best I can… after that it’s in God’s hands! I will be disappointed if I end up with another c/s and yet I’m at peace with it too. It helps that my last experience was such a positive one, even though it’s not what I wanted. It was still so wonderful and my recovery was relatively “easy” (if you can call it that! hhaha).

      And I’m soooo with you – I just want to be included in the decision-making. I know that if I don’t understand what’s happening that’s when I’ll just “go with it” and perhaps have regrets later. That’s why I’ve tried to get even more educated this time! I’m excited!

      And don’t you worry, your chance will come soon enough! I hope your teaching is off to a great start. Love ya. xx

  • Reply Kirsten 28 August 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Can I just copy and paste your first part of your birth plan and use it when my time comes? That was soooo well said.

    Good luck with everything. I too had an emergency c-section with my daughter and hope to have a vbac someday. I want to hear a success story!

    But either way, it wil be a success. Whatever happens I bet you will do an amazing job!

    • Reply Adriel 29 August 2011 at 1:04 am

      Yeah, of course you can! I’ve copied and pasted and edited and tweaked from somewhere else too. This sort of stuff all gets passed around… and that’s the way it should be – helping each other!! 🙂

      And thank you! No doubt I’ll have a success story… whether I end up with my VBAC or not. 😉 I’m very excited to try though, and feel much more psychologically and emotionally ready after spending the time to research and nail down my preferences. It’s really helped me to get my head around the whole thing!

  • Reply Livy 29 August 2011 at 5:51 am

    I have to admit, when I had Laney I thought that the birth plan thing was kind of silly. After being given pitocin (which in hindsight I likely didn’t need at all) with Laney, I am planning on having some kind of bullet list like you do for next time. I think it is really smart to know in advance what you want as well as being prepared for birth no going according to plan.

  • Reply Branson 29 August 2011 at 6:05 am

    I enjoyed writing my birth plan as well! We didn’t really get to use it because the bubs had his own plan 😉 but I was informed and ready for the unexpected as a result!

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 11 September 2011 at 5:47 am

      Yes, I think that’s so key! Even if we don’t get to use it, we are informed and ready – the most important part of preparing for birth as far as I can see. 🙂

  • Reply Tamika 29 August 2011 at 11:43 am

    I had birth plans with my first 3 children – but they were with midwives, and the 2nd and 3rd were with the same midwife – so we worked together the entire time forming the birth plan the whole way along, as you mentioned with Levi!

    My last pregnancy was my twin pregnancy. In Manitoba, Canada, as soon as you are pregnant with twins, you are no longer eligible for midwifery care. To add to my situation, my twins were monochorionic/diamniotic – which means they shared one placenta, but were in their own sacs. This adds a whole new element, and although I was blessed with no complications, they are very strict about what happens with birth here. So – when one babe was breech, then the other turned breech, I was forced with a c-section also. All plans went out the window….

    I believe that a birth plan is an excellent research tool to let you find out what you want – as you said, a home birth is not for you, yet it was my absolute best deliveries ever. It allows your midwife and your partner to know what you want – remind you of it in ‘those moments’ but ultimately its your decision.

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 11 September 2011 at 5:52 am

      How fortunate you were to have the same midwife for three pregnancies! That is really, really wonderful. And yes, I can see why they wanted your twin pregnancy a little more “managed”. I hope at least it was a good experience. I know my c/s was not what I wanted ideally, but was still very positive. Having that “good” c/s experience under my belt makes me feel more confident/prepared for this next birth and the possibility that anything could happen. Are you still going? Or stopping with five??! 😉

  • Reply Kim 30 August 2011 at 5:40 am

    I think it’s wonderful you are hoping to try for a VBAC! I’ll be thinking of you. I was surprised when my midwife told me I can still try for a VBAC with my third right now even though I’ve had two c-sections (both of my babies were transverse lie). I am thrilled and hope I can still experience the natural labor. I’ve never even felt a contraction and would love to know what it is like.

    I loved my birth plans. I got a range of reactions from the nurses about them, especially because I practiced hypnobirthing techniques (meditation to help make the labor pain free), but overall the birth plan made me feel more confident before my babies arrived.

    You’re getting so close to welcoming your new baby to the world! You look so beautiful in your photo 🙂

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 11 September 2011 at 5:54 am

      Hey Kim. Yeah, I’ve only recently heard of VBA2C’s. I didn’t think that was “possible” (as in *permitted*) either. I think it would be wonderful to experience the whole thing naturally if things go according to plans… I hope you get the birth experience you want and that it all goes smoothly! xx

      And yes, four weeks from yesterday was my due date!!!! 😀

  • Reply Queenie 31 August 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Did we figure out a way to get that extra $1500?? *wink wink*

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 11 September 2011 at 5:56 am

      Weren’t you going to do a bake sale or something? With my talents in the kitchen that would only take about… oh… 125 consecutive weekend bake sales or so. Could you make it happen any sooner??

  • Reply Alicia 17 September 2011 at 5:34 pm

    I didn’t have a written birth plan with Simon. But I was fortunate enough to find an awesome “hands-off-approach” Dr who shared our belief that babies have their own agenda and their own timing. Once my labor started and the Dr on call admitted me, my Dr came in a few hours later and discussed a few different options as far medication to speed the process. But ultimately when we decided we’d be more comfortable at home, he discharged us (we only live 7 blocks from the hospital) and encouraged us to allow that baby to come when it’s ready.

    I agree with you that education is the key. I am so grateful to have had the wonderful birth experience I had and I whole-heartedly believe the choices we made were what was best for our family. It’s so sad to me when I talk with women who share their experiences about how they were put on someone else’s delivery timing or agenda and weren’t even really given options.

    Well, beautiful lady, I pray that you have a safe and successful delivery experience and I can’t wait to hear the news of the newest Booker Baby’s arrival. May the grace of God sustain you in the waiting, and the strength of God sustain you in your labor and delivery!

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 18 September 2011 at 11:14 pm

      Wow, your doctor sounds incredible! If only they all took the time to be so caring and attentive to women’s personal needs and desires… I know they all mean well (or most do, I’m assuming), but it seems they can so easily get wrapped up in the business of babies/medicine and forget that this is the most life-altering moment of a woman’s life!! Anyway, glad your experience has been so wonderful.

      And thanks for your well wishes and prayers. I’m so grateful. xx

  • Reply holy flippin moly. it sure was a wild ride. « The Mommyhood Memos 30 December 2011 at 1:19 pm

    […] which so many of you could relate to. Finally I wrote about the controversial topic of birth plans, raising the question “who are they for, anyway?” (By the way, I plan to do a follow-up […]

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