Often times when I talk about birth planning I get told that:
“I don’t want to make a birth plan. I just want a healthy baby.”
Some take it a bit further and tell me they don’t care about the birth as long as they and their bub are alive at the end.
I take a rather more holistic view of health and birth which you can read about here.
And I very firmly believe that birth planning can help you to have a healthy birth.
Every single test, procedure and intervention that you are offered or asked to have during your pregnancy and birth has risks and alternatives. A robust birth planning process (ie: NOT just a tick list downloaded off a random internet site) will help you to ensure that you are making the best decisions for you, your baby and your birth.
EVERYTHING has risks. Image courtesy of Pixabay.
Your birth planning process should start as soon as you start trying to conceive and should include LOTS of conversations with a wide range of people.
Here’s the process I would recommend:
1) Compile a list of all the tests, procedures and interventions that you will likely be offered. Not sure about what will be offered? Ask your care provider! If they are interested in helping you to have a healthy birth they will be very keen to ensure that you are informed and confident in your decisions and will encourage you to do plenty of research. If not – find a new care provider.
It's a good idea to find out if your care provider expects you to have continuous monitoring at any point during your labour - then you can make an informed decision about it! Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
2) Define healthy. Think about what makes you feel healthy. Do you feel healthy when you are taking medication? Does chatting with a doctor and getting a prescription make you feel like you are taking care of your health? Chatting with a naturopath? Seeing a chiropractor? Swimming in the ocean and being in nature?
3) Now apply this to birth. What would you consider to be a healthy birth? A birth with an obstetrician and all the interventions? A homebirth with a midwife? It’s YOUR birth so you can define it!
Note: Make sure that you include physical, emotional and spiritual health in your above definitions.
4) Go through each item starting with the earliest one and run it through your BRAIN. What are the benefits, what are the risks, what are the alternatives, what does your intuition say about this and what would happen next.
Use your BRAIN. Author's own image.
5) Decide which items fit into your definition of health and which don’t. Think about whether there are circumstances where you might decide that an item is necessary for the health of you, your baby or your birth.
6) Remember that healthy relationships are important too! Communicate your birth plan respectfully and considerately. Use “I” statements and be assertive – not aggressive. And remember that it should go both ways - If you don’t feel that you are being respected then seek out a different care provider.
The very aim of birth planning is to help you to achieve a healthy baby, a healthy mum and a healthy birth – however YOU define health.