While some keep things till the 11th hour, some keep plans ready even before the clock starts ticking and we are surely in the latter group. Other than labelling ourselves as early planners, we take pride in the fact of not relying on intermediaries or third parties blindly when it comes to making plans.
Looking back at important milestones of our lives such as our own wedding and the 48 countries we have visited so far, we can confidently confirm that the joy of being the planner of these memorable events ourselves was a really sweet sensation. No doubt that at the prospect of having a birth plan ready in preparation for our very first baby in a few weeks time, we are all the more engaged and excited to chalk out a plan ticking all the essential boxes. Read on to find out why we think plans may be useless but planning is essential, and when it’s a matter of the birth of our first baby, “meticulous and detailed” – are the two wings we are flying with to prepare the birth plan for our ‘Shona’ as we approach 31 weeks on Monday.
Birth is unpredictable. Yes this is indeed correct. But as I am a grown woman and presumably you are too, let me tell you something you already know. Life is unpredictable. It has an unreliable, fickle, and unstable nature that quite frankly completely sucks. But still, grown-up women who know all this are told, don’t make a birth plan, you will only end up just be disappointed. This defeatist approach is disempowering. It encourages people who might normally read, research, think hard and make lists of their lists to instead lie back and let the whole birth thing just wash over them. But while ‘going with the flow’ might feel like a plan in itself, it isn’t, it’s just being passive and handing over the reigns to somebody else.
It’s true that most of us having our first baby may not know in advance exactly what we are going to want in labour. Some may think they’ll want to do the whole thing in a room all by themselves without any medical intervention, others spend most of their labour nose-to-nose with a midwife who you vow will be top of your gratitude list for the rest of your life. I have heard many pregnant women saying they have a very low pain threshold but the same women may turn out to have the soul of a Samurai. So its best to lay out in your plan what you think you are going to want, then be prepared to change tack on some aspects and stick to others depending on the situation.
What is a Birth Plan?
It is a document for both you and your care providers. It’s a way of setting out for yourself the kind of birth you want, and of thinking about what is important to you even if the birth deviates from your hopes. It’s also a piece of paper to show your midwives or other professionals to help them be clear about the choices you have made.
We have laid out the kind of birth we really want in this plan. However, we hope to work with our caregivers as a team, and are flexible and open minded. We may have a doula (who we hope to hire) in our birth space with us.
Overview: Our aim is to have a natural, vaginal birth in a midwife led labour ward but there will be doctors available outside in case we need one.
However, we remain realistic about the possibility that it is unlikely that everything will go as planned, and are willing to listen to the advice of the professionals and seek other available medical facilities should this be necessary.
Induction – we would prefer induction to be used as last resort, and prefer to be left to go into spontaneous labour, so long as all is well with the baby and me (birth-giver)
Pain-relief – we would like to avoid use of medication unless the labour is very long or difficult. We don’t mind to have gas and air available. Let me decide if I want to try any pain-relief. I do not wish to have an epidural.
Other interventions – we would prefer any other interventions such as drugs to augment labour, forceps, ventouse, caesarean etc. not to be used, except as an absolute last resort.
Lighting – Please leave the lighting as dim as possible, including after the birth.
Atmosphere – we would prefer to create our own atmosphere in the labour ward by playing music ( we have a birth playlist that we created over the last few months), our own pillows etc.
Support/ birth partner – I would like the father of the child to be my main support during labour.Student doctors -we do not want there to be any medical students present.
Cervical Examinations – Ask me before checking my cervix by putting 2 fingers inside
Continuous Electronic Foetal Monitoring – Please ask permission before you decide to put any machinery on me. My consent as birth-giver is important.
Freedom of movement – Please allow me to have freedom of movement inside the labour ward
Food & Drink – Please allow me to eat snacks and have a sip of healthy drinks during contractions.
Waters -Don’t break my waters if its not naturally broken.
Talking – We want DO NOT DISTURB sign outside the labour ward. If there are practical matters to discuss between the midwives, please do this out of the room. We would like the room atmosphere to be calm, in particular during contractions.
Pushing – I would like to push in my own way and in my own time, rather than being directed, unless request otherwise. After transition, please allow me to rest a while if I have no pushing urge or energy left.
Episiotomy – I would prefer not to have this procedure, should I have a 1st degree tear, I would prefer to be left to heal naturally.
Time – Unless there are evidence-based concerns about the welfare of the baby or me, or both, I do not wish ‘time’ to be a factor in any decision-making regarding medical interventions.
The Birth –
Catching the baby – Let me (the birth-giver) catch the baby with the help of the father of the child
Cutting the cord – Let me (the birth-giver) cut the cord
Third stage – We would prefer to have a physiological third stage and deliver the placenta without a syntometrine injection unless we are given good reason why this is absolutely necessary.
Placenta – We would like to put it in a bag, take home and bury it somewhere special.
First hour – we would like the baby to be placed immediately on my tummy or breast for skin-to-skin contact. We would like the baby to remain unclothed. Please delay any weighing, measuring etc. for at least an hour so that all 3 of us have time to bond. We consider this to be the most important bonding time for our little family of 3.
First day/night – Should we stay in the hospital that night, we want the baby to remain with us all the time.
Feeding – I plan to breastfeed and hope that this can begin naturally soon after the birth. However, if necessary we would like help and support with this.
Vitamin K – we wish to administer oral drops rather than the baby have an injection.