Understanding birth plans
Creating a birth plan is ultimately about the process of exploring your birth options and clarifying what is important for you in your birth experience. It leads you to feeling more confident that you have done all you can to communicate your wishes and desire for woman centred collaboration with your birth team.
It needs both your head and heart in the process and it’s well worth your effort. It’s not setting you up for failure. It’s setting up you to be aware of your rights, your choices, your feelings, your thoughts and to help you work with your birth team to create your best birth possible.
Although you don’t know what exactly will unfold on the day you give birth, you will have a better sense of control and power because of your engagement in the process of asking for what you want. This can feel uncomfortable for many because we are not used to being respectfully assertive, or even knowing and then asking for what we want! But remember this birth is happening with your body, your baby and you live with the experience! You have a right to decide what is best for you and your family.
The birth plan process expands your ideas on what is possible at a positive and empowering birth. When you dream and imagine an empowering birth (how ever clear or abstract that may seem) you allow your mind and body to explore more actively how to make it happen. That’s super exciting! Even if the process or the outcome are not perfect, you feel like an active contributor in how your life unfolds! New mums and dads say they feel more powerful and sense their personal growth from the experience. Your birth can strengthen the foundations that your life as a parent and family will grow from. This is you! Because you are curious and are exploring your options by reading this right now.
It also equalises the power in your birth team. It reminds us that, with respectful communication, the birthing mother and their partner can consider the pros and cons of the different skills, beliefs, practices and attitudes of their different birth team members (self, partner, midwife, doula, doctor etc.) We are relating human to human not just doctor to patient.
So use your pregnancy time to ponder your birth philosophy and what influences your ideas of what is possible. Read up and research about evidence based care and common obstetric interventions. Talk to your partner in depth about what you both want, what your expectations of each other are and how you might navigate your pregnancy and birth experience together in care and consideration of your similarities and differences.
Use your antenatal visits to discuss your birth plan with your care provider (use the checklist as a guide). Find out what most commonly happens in the hospital you’re birthing at and how your care provider practices. Aim to understand their perspective on your health care and weigh up what is evidence based and specific to your individual care as opposed to habituated practices.
Going through the process of researching, communicating about and writing your birth plan helps you feel into the emotions that may come up for you when you respectfully assert yourself. During labour this can be hard to do if you don’t already have an embodied awareness of your right to make an informed choice and you can consent freely (otherwise it’s not consent). It may be helpful to seek emotional support to process, practice and integrate positive emotions into your sense of self during your pregnancy. Just imagine how much easier it will be to speaking up and stay calm so your birthing hormones are not disrupted and your labour can progress more effectively.
Use the check list to prompt you about common practices in maternity care today. Write up a simple end document that you can give to all the people who are a part of your care during labour. Give a copy to your primary care provider. Take a few copies with you to the hospital. Politely ask any new staff to read your birth plan before discussing your care. Naturally an emergency situation compromises this process but do what you can to communicate what is important to you.
If you have other support people with you in labour, such as a doula or friend, the birth plan offers them a point of reference to advocate on your behalf if need be.
Creating a birth plan by doing the preparation during pregnancy means you are more likely to be able navigate your options more calmly and with more confidence. You are more likely to have a team that understands how to best support you and take into considerations your individual needs. It’s an empowering practice. It’s actually going to reduce your perception of pain and transform it into power. Your birth plan is a formula for a more manageable, quicker and easier birth. And because birth brings a baby into your arms, don’t forget that you are practicing a life skill that helps you evolving into an conscious, active, loving parent. You will have more resilience, inner strength, self confidence and heart to trust your parenting instincts and take care of your growing family.
Realise your potential by creating a birth plan and become the birthing mama and papa you want to be!
Enjoy and remember, I am here to support you through this process : )