The two words ‘Birth Plan’ were always going to cause debate from the start. Who out there can PLAN the way their birth is going to go? Birth doesn’t always go to ‘plan’, so some people think the whole exercise is a waste of time. On the other hand, there are others who think having a ‘Birth Plan’, with that very name, is an important part of birthing women reclaiming power, giving them the right to have choice and the birth they hope for. They even feel that the words ‘intentions’ or ‘preferences’ are not strong enough words to convey that power and choice they believe all should have.
I will suggest to have more than one “plan”. The ‘ideal birth’ the ‘if i need to transfer/intervention birth’ and the ‘c/section birth.’ In each put what your preferences would be, i.e. If you had a cesarean, should the drape be dropped so that you can watch the baby being born and discover the sex yourselves. Present it all to the birth center and your private obstetrician (who would be your doctor if you are transferred to the hospital).
There are so many reasons to be writing out your birth intentions
- You get to explore how you feel about birth and which of the many options you would like for the birth.
Ideally you have already done some research and read empowering and informative books so you know the importance of your choices. If you haven’t yet, it’s a great time to start, no matter how pregnant you might be. Just going with what you heard from friends and family, is nowhere near enough, yet so many women never do the research to truly know what THEY want.
- Your partner / support person will get to know what you want too.
It’s all well and good chatting to everyone about what you want, but having it on paper for them to look over and remind themselves is a great idea. Sometimes the whole adrenaline rush of labor can even send a partner with the very best of memories out the window, and you can easily forget what you have learnt or been asked to remember. Just saying to your partner, ‘Look, all you need to know is I don’t want an epidural!,’ can lead to stress later when he/she is confronted with having to help make a decision about something unrelated, when it’s something you haven’t had time to discuss previously. Being put on the spot during labor can be frightening for them: having to make a decision while mum-to-be is having contractions and you just don’t know what to say! So this will help your support people to help you.
- Because YOU HAVE CHOICE AND POWER.
Most women think that they wont have any say in how things will go in labor. The fact is, medical procedures ARE optional, they can’t do anything to you that you don’t want (they could get sued!) and you have a right to say no. This is your body, your baby and if you have done your research, you will have more power because information is power.
Having your birth intentions to hand to a midwife or obstetrician reminds them that you have choice in all of this, and their role is to help you achieve that. Don’t feel bad asking questions about what they are asking you to do. Always reaffirm what you want from your birth experience until you are content with the answer.
- Well written birth intentions cover all scenarios.
How can someone then say to you, ‘You can’t PLAN your birth!’ when you have covered your preferences for normal birth, pain relief, cesarean etc. If all scenarios are covered, you can simply reply, ‘My carer will know what I want to happen in any given situation as I have researched and noted my preferences.’ Be sure to send it to your primary caregiver in time so they can read through it and discuss it with you if necessary.
(Please note that clicking the above link will automatically download the PDF to your computer. If you don’t see it pop up, check your downloads folder for the file.)