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The Birth Plan Saga: Our Take

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Have you done your birth plan?

A question which often has one of two responses from women...(other responses also valid!)

1. Yes, we know exactly what we want, for all scenarios

2. We are just going with the flow / we will do what is recommended to us

Neither are right or wrong, there is never a right or wrong for birth. Lets explore where these answers come from and how they can affect your birth experience. 

 

Yes, we know exactly what we want, for all scenarios

This may be a response from someone who likes to be in control, they like to be prepared and to know what may be happening at each stage of labour. They have researched a lot, because they want to be reassured of what is to come. They realise that birth isn't something you can 'plan' entirely, but having the knowledge that they have thought about their options, makes them feel better.

When a midwife or doctor hears this response, they may feel threatened or uneasy - has an indepth birth plan been written, which sounds as though the plan must happen and the family will not budge on their preferences? Will the midwife have difficulty, if an 'emergency' situation occurs, due to having to intervene? Will the family be going against hospital guidelines, which puts the midwife on edge, because they like to feel protected? Midwives may also feel reassured that the family have done their research and understand the pros and cons of their options.

Here at The Little Birth Company, we totally advocate researching all your options, attending birth preparation classes and writing your birth preferences. It can only be a good thing, having this knowledge. We also like to highlight that birth preferences are what you would ideally like, but it is important to also consider what happens if your path to birth changes. What will you do then? This doesn't mean writing 10 different birth preferences, it just means having a think about what happens if you require an induction, caesarean, or assisted birth. How will that make you feel and how can you continue to encorporate your wants into this?

You should be working with your midwife/doctor, asking them questions and fully understanding what is going on. This will enable you to adjust your preferences as necessary, if required.

 

We are just going with the flow / we will do what is recommended to us

Also fair. If we go deeper, people who say things similar to this, may be deeply frightened about making their own decisions or taking responsibility for choices that are made, perhaps because they don't have enough information available to them or they feel the healthcare professionals know best and will do their upmost to ensure the safety of both mum and baby. This is true, healthcare professionals have a huge responsibility to do no harm, but all decisions and procedures should be done with informed consent. This means that you need to understand the pros and cons to whatever is happening, making the decision yourself. Blindly doing 'as you are told' by anybody is not consent and can lead to coercion. 

As for 'going with the flow' we absolutely get this too. You don't know what is going to happen during labour, so you must make choices as you go and be flexible. You are open to suggestions through professional experience, but what you can be susceptible to if you haven't really considered your options beforehand, is accepting anything and everything, just because someone is telling you to. At the time, this may not feel significant, but later down the line, you may or may not feel like you should have done something differently, or made your own decision. Retrospect is a killer!

A happy medium is brilliant. Research your options, so you know what is available to you. Understand that things will most likely deviate from your preferences, even if it is only a small change, but this is ok. As long as you are aware of what is going on, and make decisions as you go, you will remain in control. Also thinking that being flexible is crucial, listen to your midwife/doctor and have good discussions with them in order to make a choice that is right for you. 

Don't go in blind; also know that you cannot control everything and that is more than normal.

For more information on birth preferences, find your local LBC instructor here.

18 August, 2019