birth plan, birth, birth fears, preparing for birth

The word ‘plan’ usually freaks me out. Surely I didn’t escape the corporate world to have a baby just to be told that I need to write a birth plan! And how exactly was I supposed to write it when I’d never given birth before and I had no idea what to expect? Yet, after three births I can see that a birth plan has its place and is not just an attempt to control what you can’t control.

Your support people know how to support you

Sometimes when we’re overcome with pain, we don’t make the best decisions in the moment. With a plan our support people can try to steer us in the direction we’d rather be going, but are too scared to.

After reading a few stories about epidurals gone wrong, I had developed almost irrational fear of epidurals and I wanted to avoid it during labour at all cost. Yet, in the middle of it, I found myself screaming for epidural and I was very persistent. If my partner and the midwives hadn’t known how strongly I felt about it, they would have given in. As it was, they kept on offering alternatives and I got through it. The birth left me feeling elated for weeks. I’m not sure I’d have felt the same way if I had had the epidural.

The plan helps deal with your fears

If you have any fears concerning the birth of your baby (who doesn’t?), the birth plan can help you address those fears, so that you can be prepared. Most likely what you fear will never happen, but having a strategy in pace to manage it gives you a peace of mind.

The birth of my second child was very quick and they say every subsequent labour gets even shorter. So before I was due to give birth for the third time I was afraid that I won’t make it to the birth centre and I’d have to give birth alone at home. What if it happened during the day when my husband was at work? What if the baby came out with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck and I wouldn’t be able to undo it on my own?

I talked to my midwife about my concerns and I half expected her to laugh them off. Instead, she walked me through a process of giving birth at home on my own and encouraged me to have a list of people to call at a short notice who’d be available during the day. I wrote everything in my plan and even though I didn’t end up needing it, it made me feel a whole lot better.

Allow for flexibility

While the birth plan has been helpful for me, I know women who felt disappointed with their birth experience because it didn’t go to plan. It’s important to use your birth plan as a tool and not a standard to measure yourself against. The birth of your child may end up being completely different from what you imagined. Allow yourself the flexibility to change your plan and do what needs to be done. The birth of a baby is a miracle, no matter what. Let it feel like a miracle.

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By Tatiana Apostolova