INFORMED BIRTH PLANNING
Congratulations! You are embarking on a great Journey, the Journey into Parenthood.
Being pregnant is a beautiful and precious stage in our life. The wonder of it, the hope and anticipation of what will be, it is both scary and exciting.
For many it is overwhelming.
From the confirmation of our pregnancy, we find ourselves on a conveyor belt ride. We are taken along, ready or not, our body grows our baby without a conscious effort on our part. We may find ourselves in a need-to-know scenario, where we are told certain procedures are needed but not given information or time to understand. This is ‘routine care’. For many women, these routine procedures cause worry and confusion. Without advance notice of what will come next, we do not have time to ask questions.
Perhaps you have you heard that birth plans are thrown out the window during labour? Does this make you wonder why you would bother preparing one?
The plans that are ‘thrown out’ generally fall into four categories:
- “I would like a natural birth, unless intervention is deemed necessary ". This vague and uncommitted ‘plan’ misses the point and purpose of a birth plan.
- The free online template plan, without giving much thought to its workability and often do not adequately run it by their care givers only to discover during labour that staff cannot honour the plan.
- The Declaration of War, putting staff off side and creating an uncomfortable birthing environment, often resulting in a traumatic experience. I have heard midwives scoff at these birth plans and then line up the woman for ‘the works’.
- The inflexible plan. A birth plan fixates on an ideal without considering contingency, with any deviation considered a failure.
The written plan can outline the techniques intended to use, allowing support people to follow this guide, rather than interrupting to ask questions to ‘just check’. The plan makes it clear what is wanted generally, but also allows for truly informed consent or refusal. By negotiating and determining in advance the circumstances where certain procedures may (or may not) be considered, the mother is able to relax and concentrate on birthing.
General birth intentions included might be regarding positions, water birth, assisted ‘pushing’ and environment. Informed inclusions may regard vaginal examinations, cord management (or even lotus birth), baby to chest, baby-led attachment for breastfeeding. There are many optional, but routine, procedures that need to be considered in advance and require informed consent or refusal. When intentions deviate from ‘routine’, the birth document becomes particularly important. A workable birth document will have been agreed to in advance, so the mother should not have to ‘fight’ for Her Birth.
For many women, an Informed Birth Plan, is unachievable without help. A workable plan is the result of informed preparations and it is often overwhelming and restrictive to gather relevant evidence-based information, let alone know what question to ask and when.
Plan Bellabirth: Informed Birth Planning is a keepsake workbook which includes an introduction to the purpose and reasoning behind a birth plan, suggested resources and provides a series of questions to facilitate the preparation process. It is divided into the different stages of labour and offers space for consideration of a labour that deviates from expectation. The guide introduces ideas for easing the transition into parenthood and space to record Your Story.
It has a built-in contingency plan. Not because things will ‘go bad’, or because it is even likely too. The contingency is the insurance, the backup, the ‘just in case’. It protects you from on the spot decisions. It means you are more likely to recognise and understand any deviations from your expectations, and respond calmly and appropriately having made informed decisions in advance.
A doula - a personal mentor – can support you in your birth preparations, providing you with evidence-based resources and taking the guess work out of birth preparations. You do not need to reinvent the wheel, you can draw on the experience and knowledge of those who have gone before. Using Plan Bellabirth and considering doula support is the most efficient way to approach birth preparations. It is Your Birth Your Way.