Preparing For Your Amazing Birth1
One thing I get asked quite frequently in my work is, ‘I want to prepare for my upcoming birth. What do you think about having a birth plan?’. I love being asked this question as it opens up a great conversation about preparing for birth and what it will look like. It also helps identify any personal expectations that we hold.
Having A Specific Birth Plan
A birth plan is a personally curated list of all the important things a woman wants to during her labour and birth. It often can include specific do’s and don’ts about what should happen during the labour and birth. Some women will write down that they do not want any medications at all and they do not want to have an intravenous put in. Others will write a plan for an early epidural and to ‘labour down’ when they are fully dilated.
Having a written out birth plan allows the care provider and support people involved know what the woman wants to happen. Overall, the idea of the birth plan is meant to empower the birthing mama on her journey to meeting her baby.
Over the years I have seen many different birth plans. Some come to me as preprinted papers with tick boxes. Others are humorous letters written by the baby detailing how to be kind to their mama. Some birth plans are multiple pages long with very intricate details. Whatever the birth plan looks like, there is always a variety of detail and expectations listed out.
Why You Should Consider Skipping A Birth Plan
If there is one thing I know for sure about birthing babies is even the best laid plans can go completely sideways. In the process of creating a plan our minds can sometimes get stuck on the exact details we have put together. For some of us having a birth that did not go as according to plan can leave us feeling like we’ve failed. Some women will feel emotionally let down when the plan didn’t work and hold on to this hurt.
Over the years I’ve worked closely with many different woman. Some who felt like they let themselves/their baby/their partner down because the birth did not go as they had planned. Nothing is as raw and fresh as a newly post partum mama. Couple those normal feelings with a birth plan that went out the window and the disappoint can be huge.
Your Birth Story
I always like to tell my patients, ‘we don’t know what your birthing story will be until the baby is here on the outside‘. Going into your labour with an open mind and allowing expectations to be fluid is really key. This will help in embracing our individual birth. As well this is exponentially important when birth veers from what was expected. Especially so if the birth became an emergency or has interventions that weren’t planned.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t feel disappointment or that you won’t experience trauma from a birth that went in a different direction. Those are valid feelings. No one makes a birth plan indicating they would like to include an emergent caesarean birth with lots of random unfamiliar faces in the delivery and every single intervention under the sun.
A Wish List For Your Amazing Birth
A birth wish list is similar to a plan but it allows for that flexibility that is so important in birth. Creating a personal wish list allows you to think through different things that might work for you. A wish list is a lot less firm than a birth plan. The process of creating a general wish list that allows the flexibility that birth requires.
The human body is a marvel and growing a human is stunningly amazing. Just like every other system in our body, birth can often be straight forward and sometimes birthing requires specialized help and intervention. Again, and this is the take home message, we don’t know our birth story until our baby is out of the womb.
Creating Your Birth Wish List
Creating a birth wish list can be as simple as taking the time to mindfully thing about the things you might like to try in your labour. Often our terminology and words can often play an important role in birth. For example, what does having a “natural birth” mean to you? Does it mean drug free or no epidural? Does natural birth mean a vaginal birth with no instruments like forceps or vacuum? The answer will range from person to person.
Having a birth wish list allows for the mental space for when back up plans come along. You don’t know what your birth story will be until that baby is here in your arms. I don’t know if you’ll be the mama to rapidly dilate and have an unplanned home birth. I don’t know if you’ll be the mama that has prodromal labour that lasts for days.
Before you go into labour take some time to understand the process of birth. Take a prenatal class. Read a variety of books from authors who come from different backgrounds. Let your idea of your labour and birth be open. Remember your birth story belongs to you and your baby. However you may birth your baby, you are amazing. Absolutely amazing. Be proud of yourself.
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