I have a bit of a love ~ hate relationship with Birth Plans. I do however think that they are a very good tool to help you think through what may happen at your birth. They are also a good way for your midwife to find out about you and your wants and desires.
It is very easy to assume that you will have a lovely physiological/normal birth and that nothing will interrupt that. Therefore writing a plan that says no forceps or no epidural is quite a straight forward thought, that makes sense.
But what about the induced birth? This is not a physiological birth. It is a birth that has already started out with intervention. It is a birth that may well need help along the way. That help, in turn will mean that more pain is felt by the mother, who may feel that she then needs an Epidural. An Epidural means that the mother is now stuck on her back making an instrumental help or a Caesarian birth more likely. So reading a birth plan that says no epidurals and no instrumentals would already make the plan a little redundant.
So here are my feelings about Birth Plans. I think that they are a really great way for couples to go through different scenarios in their heads and work through what they might want in the different circumstances. We need to think, plan A, plan B and then plan C. We know that ideally we want a physiological birth, surrounded by people we love in a place where we feel safe. A wise Elder once said to me that ‘babies birth better in the beds where they were conceived’ There is a lot of truth to this statement.
In which case, a Plan A birth plan is perfect. You can think about when you will want to call your midwife to come and watchfully await your baby’s birth. You can think about whether or not you will want regular vaginal examinations. Or whether you would sooner not know all the time that things are progressing.
A hypnobirthing course will go through all the different birth scenarios with you and help you understand the different things that may happen in the different circumstances. We will talk about the different pain relieving options and the circumstances in which they are best used. All drugs have a place, and when they are used appropriately, they can be a really good thing.
The course will give you a better understanding of how induction of labour is often the first intervention that leads to a cascade of other things happening to a woman that are very difficult to control. We will discuss reasons why an instrumental birth or caesarian might become necessary. This is where plans B and C might become applicable.
You may be planning a caesarian birth. We will think about how this happens, from your time on the ward to walking down the corridor towards the theatre. You may want to investigate having a ‘Gentle Caesarian’ and we could discuss how this might look for you and the different options there are around this.
We will discuss things like delayed cord clamping and the delivery of the placenta. Whether or not you wish your child to have a vitamin K injection.
These will all give you food for thought, and when you get to your 36 week appointment with your midwife she will be able to discuss your place of birth and answer all your questions. A community Matron once said to me that it is inappropriate to refer women with uncomplicated pregnancies to Delivery Suite and that clients should be offered a homebirth or the birthing centre. I tend to agree, you would not go to see a specialist eye doctor at the hospital for a routine eye test where there are no known complications. Therefore if you are having a straightforward pregnancy, it would seem sensible to opt for a home birth or a birth at the birthing centre where your chances or physiological birth are greater.
You can only make informed decisions if you have the right information available. Discussions around interventions should be a conversation and not one sided. Most interventions offered are not ‘do you want….?’ ‘Yes’ or ‘no’ Or even worse. ‘ I’ll just…. Ok’? Or ‘I need to….’. A hypnobirthing course will give you the tools you need to question and to work out what is best for you.
Remember, making a birth plan helps you be clearer in your own mind, about your feelings around things that may or may not happen during your upcoming birth. A hypnobirth course will inform you, not only about hypnobirthing, but also give you a great insight into how your body births and what might happen and this will help you think things through.