Birth plans, or preferences, get a lot of discussion - especially amongst those who may already have children.
“No point having a birth plan, mine went out the window as soon as I went into labour!”
“You'll just be disappointed if you write a plan and then your birth goes off-piste”
“You can't control it. Give in and do what the doctors say”
…and so on…
I’m not going to say that birth isn’t unpredictable, it is incredibly unpredictable - but the act of making a birth plan can help you navigate those twists and turns.
Let’s take a similar life event you plan for - a wedding. If you are married, the chances are during the wedding planning process you would have created your ideal dream wedding day, perhaps a few things were changed (budget constraints or guest numbers), but you planned for the perfect day. Decisions such as what drink to toast with, whether you want a band or a DJ, a buffet or sit down meal, tuxedo or casual wear? Traditional wedding cake or a tiered cheese cake? People have their own visions for their ideal wedding day, and the planning process is part of finding out what you and your partner want out of the day. It also helps you understand what you don’t want and how to protect your space. You’d probably also plan a backup, in case of emergencies, or inclement weather. Having this backup (or plan B) means that if any curveballs come your way on the day, you are already equipped to deal with them.
So I’m sure you can probably already see the analogy I am making here. Plan your birth like you might plan your wedding. Do your research, understand your options, scope out your plan A, plan B and plan C.
The power of the planning is what will help you when you’re in labour. If your labour and birth takes a twist or turn, you’re already aware of the decision which may be in front of you. If a healthcare professional asks your consent for a procedure, you already understand the procedure and the risks and benefits. If something is recommended to you, you are aware of your rights and can ask for some time to make a decision. You and your birth partner/s will have already sat down together, researched your rights, your options and made some decisions, the planning of it is where the true power lies.
Your birth plan can be a simple set of bullet points, or a more detailed plan for the different stages of labour. You may wish to separate your plan into stages of labour, or have a plan for your ideal birth environment, a plan for induction and a plan for a c-section. You can use bullet points, mind maps, images, whatever works for you. Ideally the plan will be easy to understand by the healthcare team working with you. But remember this process is for you and your partner to understand your rights and preferences.
If you need any help with birth plans, I plan on hosting regular workshops but am more than happy to do a 121 with you and your birth partner. Get in touch if you are interested :)