Birth Plans: Are They Useful or Setting Us up to Fail?
I have been thinking of labour and birth a lot recently…as in it keeps me up at night wondering how it is all going to play out for my partner and I in a few months when our time comes…and when I say “Partner and I” I really mean “I”. I know it’s not all about me, obviously. But as the one attempting to push a watermelon sized human out of my body I figure I can make it a little more about me than him.
To be honest, even as a nurse (a baby nurse at that), the thought of labour and birth has often had me squirming in my seat. Don’t get me wrong I like to listen to people talking about their own experiences but I often find that friends will overshare with me because as I nurse I don’t find anything gross right?
Wrong. I am a nurse, not a midwife. So when you tell me stories of your afterbirth, your blood loss or the fact that you did indeed poo throughout labour I sit there and nod along, but the whole time I am willing myself not to vomit, or give that little shudder your body does when it rejects something.
I was asked recently how I planned to deliver our baby.
“What do you mean?” I said.
Then a list of questions were fired at me so quickly I only managed to remember some of them.
Do you have your birth planned typed? – No
You’re doing Hypnobirthing right? – No
You won’t have any drugs surely? – I will if I need/want them
Is your partner going to cut the cord? – If he hasn’t passed out then I am sure he will
Are you doing delayed cord clamping? – Most likely, if it’s an option at the time
Have you booked into the hospital? -Yep
Will you stay for 3 or 4 nights? – I would like to discharge as soon as my baby and I are safe and allowed too.
Are you going public or private? – Private til 20 weeks (today) and now Public
Will you immunise at birth? – Absolutely
Will you be so disappointed if you have a C-Section? – Nope, not even slightly.
OK stop asking me things, please stop with all the questions!!
I am a planner by nature; I like all my ducks in a row. I often write lists of errands I have already completed just so I can tick them off. It’s therapeutic for me and I struggle with anything not going to plan (hence the crazy person I became through the fertility treatment). But the delivery of my baby is not something I feel the need to make a list for. What to take to the hospital in 4 months’ time? Oh you can bet your last dollar on the fact that I have already made, remade and laminated that list. But a list for how to deliver my baby? Nope.
Now please don’t be offended if you have made, typed and laminated your birth plan. I am not for one second saying that I think it’s a crap idea. I am saying it’s a crap idea for me. Let me tell you a few of my reasons. As a neonatal nurse I am aware that things don’t always go to plan with our babies and often whatever is going to happen will happen regardless. I also know that when I make a plan I really reeeeeaally struggle with deviating from it, so if I were to make a birth plan and have it in my head, then if things changed throughout the birth I know that emotionally I would find that very difficult.
My final and probably most important reason is this; I am not a midwife, nor am I a Doctor. Delivering a baby is not my job; I have not been trained to do it. I believe that a trained health professional helping, supporting and leading the way to a smooth and safe delivery of a healthy baby and an exhausted but safe and healthy mum is the most important job in the world. As the friend of many midwives I know them to be kind, caring and love what they do, so I trust them to guide and support my partner and I through something I know nothing about.
In saying that, I have excellent instincts and let me tell you that if something doesn’t feel quite ‘right’ no-one could stop me standing up and advocating for my baby. No-one.
My plan is simple; to deliver the cutest, healthiest baby in the safest way possible.
What kind of things were on your birth plan? Did everything go to to plan for you and your baby?