I am going to pre-empt those of you with doubts with the following statement: you can’t truly plan your birth, birth is unpredictable, it is messier than you’d expect, and it is out of your hands, mostly, which way things will go. This is all true, it is all valid. And yet, there are still reasons to plan your birth. And they are as follows:
Knowledge is power. There are a lot of buzzwords around birth. A lot of myths, and a lot of confusion, too. By taking your head out of the sand (that baby is coming out of you somehow my love, I’m sorry to say the birthing part cannot be avoided) and doing your research, you will have a better understanding of what is about to happen to you, what all of the options are, and whether or not you are happy with the choices that are being made. Walking into that experience knowing whether you would be happy with an induction, or an instrumental delivery, for example, and which instruments you are and are not comfortable with is powerful. In some births, women reach a point at which a doctor will tell them an induction or instruments are required. But you may prefer to have a C-Section, or no intervention at all, and as long as it’s a medically viable option, that’s totally OK. Being completely informed on your reasons why will help you to be strong about that choice, and having it written down and inserted into your notes may even remove the need for the conversation to take place altogether, saving everyone in the room time. Remember, everything during birth requires your consent. Understanding what you are or are not consenting to is of the utmost importance if you want to walk away from the experience feeling positive, and empowered.
Planning is power. Once you know all of your options, there is nothing more centering than sitting down and making the plan that will determine what kind of birth you have. It’s a very soothing experience, and one that will help you to take back control of your emotions around birth. There are so many things you can plan, too. It’s not all about whether forceps are a yay or nay. There’s the music, the snacks, the people you want in the room. It’s a great way to prepare your mind as your body prepares itself, and push aside any fears to make room for excitement.
There are decisions that shouldn’t be made in the delivery room. During the throes of a contraction is not the time to be answering the question ‘are you happy with a ventouse delivery?’ if you have no idea what a ventouse delivery actually is. There often isn’t time to discuss and explain everything that is happening in the room, so do your research beforehand. Make sure you’re informed, in order to keep some control.
And it helps your partner advocate for your choices. Sometimes you will be too tired to argue when choices are being made for you that you’re unhappy with, and sometimes a doctor will just ask your partner what is best rather than asking you. If your birth partner has seen your plan, and is aware of what you do and do not wish to consent to, they can be in your corner. But if they don’t know what you want? They can’t help you.
A birth plan allows your midwife the chance to give you the birth you desire. Midwives are (more often than not) wonderful people, and they are on your side. Help them to help you by being clear about your wishes upfront. If they’re anything like mine were, they’ll do everything in their power to give you what you want. And even if things do veer off course, you’ll feel more positive knowing that your voice was heard, and your psychological needs met, as much as they possibly could be.
And increases your confidence around giving birth, making for a less stressful third trimester. Being informed takes away fear’s power. Treat yourself to a more relaxed birth build up by, for want of a better way of saying it, knowing your shit.
Giving birth is a hugely empowering experience for women, and it’s something only we can do. We are giving human life, using our own bodies, and we are transforming from simply ‘woman’ to ‘mother’ in the instants that we do so. Making a birth plan allows you to keep hold of that power, rather than handing it over at the delivery room door. As I say, not everything will go to plan. But some things just might. And those ‘some things’ will be what you cling to during your recovery, when reflecting on how the experience was for you.
Choose to be in control of your own destiny.
That’s a decision you’ll never regret.
P.S. If you want a good book to help you learn about your choices, and help you to feel like a goddess as you do so, I can highly recommend Milli Hill’s ‘The Positive Birth Book.‘ It made all the difference to my own experience ♡