Birth plans, I feel are important. But more as a road map to get you from pregnancy to holding your baby in your arms. Making sure you are prepared for any eventuality so you come away from birth with feelings of positivity.
Birth plans can get a bad rap – too many times they are seen as a woman’s way of dictating how to get her perfect birth. You hear stories of them being thrown away or laughed at. But I think we can look at them in another way making them a way to plan your route no matter what happens, digging deep and working through any worries or anxieties you may have about particular births to find your resilience and inner strengths.
When I felt the burning urge to become a mum, have a baby,
get pregnant I had a deep fear about the pain of labour. Memories of the first
birthing video I watched a s a 10 year old where the women looked in so much
pain, I know several of us were affected by that.
I investigated on the internet and discovered hypnobirthing and knew that this was what I needed, so I located someone nearby, then I got pregnant.
I felt so confident that I would learn all the techniques to
have a pain free birth. I started pregnancy yoga at 16 weeks and went every
week until week 37 – on my first day of maternity leave – exactly on week 38 my
son was born.
Confident as I was for coping with the pain of labour what I wasn’t ready for was that birth might take a different journey than what I had set my heart on.
To start with, I realised that my midwife, great as she was, had this habit of saying ‘you’ll have a home birth, unless anything goes wrong’ and I wonder if she was inadvertently implanting a seed of doubt. But when we eventually felt the need to call the midwife she couldn’t make it. Her shift was over. I hadn’t expected this at all, she was the only midwife I had met, we knew each other well and I felt comfortable with her. I don’t cope well with strangers at the best of times and this really knocked my confidence. They weren’t the most interactive midwives, they sat on the sofa and refused a cup of tea, which, silly as it sounds, put me on edge even more. If they’d had a cup of tea I would have felt like they were comfortable and had time to enjoy a cup of tea. Without it I felt like they were in a hurry or didn’t really have time to wait. Funny, how the mind works isn’t it.
Then baby got stuck and there was this push for things to
happen, I could feel a stopwatch being turned on, eventually I was taken to hospital in an
ambulance and I can still feel that lost feeling of standing by myself at the
entrance to a huge room with a bed in the middle, my partner hadn’t arrived yet
and the two midwives who had been with me left.
I had not prepared for any of this and it affected me a lot.
I walked a lot once we had come out of hospital and my strength had returned and that walking helped me to process a few feelings, what I realised was that there had been something deeply missing from my birth preparation. I hadn’t really explored my fears and it hadn’t been impressed on me enough that I needed coping techniques for ANY eventuality.
I think birth planning is important, but a specific kind, a
deeper process on how to cope if this
happens or that happens. A bit like planning a car journey you look at a map
and choose the best route for you and then have a look at possible alternative
routes if there are traffic jams for example or roads are closed – you might
not write detailed alternative routes but you’d have your map, you’d know what
routes were available and would check back on your . And if, heaven forbid, you
broke down you would have the number of the breakdown service. It reminds me of
when I was little and in the winter we would all have a shovel, salt, blankets,
rope, wellies and a thermos in the car in case of getting stuck in the snow. You
very much might not need it, but you were prepared for any eventuality. And
So what does this mean for a birth plan? You need to investigate each eventuality that birth could bring, search for any fears or anxieties you have around each one and work out if there is anything you could do to prevent this happening, or if there isn’t what you could do, or what do you need to know to make sure this is still a positive birth for you? Are you holding judgements about a certain way of birthing? Why is this so and how can you let those judgements go?
Asking yourself these questions and digging deep to find the answers means that you will have the resilience for dealing with whichever way your birth journey takes you.
What is important is that you have thought about tools to cope.
Are you prepared for your baby’s birth, what questions do you need to ask?
Rosie Dhoopun is an antenatal teacher, pregnancy and postpartum fitness specialist and pelvic floor restore coach.
She currently offers online courses and classes and her Better Birth Method programme is due to launch very soon.
If you would like to download your free guide to 5 Essentials to a Better Birth click here.