Many a sceptic has told me how pointless it is to make a birth plan, that babies and their entrance into the world are totally unpredictable and that you’re just wasting your energy in making these kinds of preparations. Personally I could not disagree more!
Think of the amount of time and energy put into planning a wedding, or going on holiday or even doing the weekly food shop. Having a baby is one of the biggest things that will ever happen to you (if you choose that path) and to not prepare for it seems ludicrous to me. I should however mention that I am a big worrier / over planner / organisational freak so of course this is how I feel, but hear me out because I think this is an important process than everyone could benefit from.
First, a bit of background. My perception of birth had always come from TV adaptations or the horror stories people like to tell you of their own experiences. I had only really considered that you would birth in a hospital because “what if something goes wrong” and that babies enter the world from ladies who are screaming whilst laying on their backs. When I first got pregnant I knew that I would be giving birth in my local hospital, that it would hurt and that my child will either exit from my vag, all going well, or the sun roof should things go wrong. I had heard of contractions, listened to numerous birth stories (none of which sounded pleasant) and watched one born every minute religiously so I thought I was properly clued up.
How wrong was I!
After getting over the initial “OMG I’M PREGNANT” shock, me being the control freak I am, I decided to do a little more research. First off I knew I wanted to look into hypnobirthing as I’d heard such amazing things. Luckily Acanteen, a venue local to me, was hosting a taster session run by Cheryl from The Hypnobirth School, so I took my mum along to see what it was all about. Again I didn’t really know much going in, I thought it was all going to be a bit hippy, with the focus being on a meditative state (which I wasn’t sure I’d be capable of achieving) but in actual fact I was shocked by how scientific it was and I was hooked from the beginning. Unfortunately, I was a little disheartened as the courses aren’t cheap. I knew I wanted to do a course but I wasn’t sure I could justify the money (although going back to my point earlier on, think of the money we invest in holidays and weddings, why not splurge on making sure you have the most amazing birth) so I delved further and came across the Positive Birth Company’s digital pack and OH MY it has totally flipped my brain 180 on how I look at birth. It is certainly a huge reason behind me feeling so calm about the impending day and I could not recommend it enough (I literally tell every pregnant woman I meet about it haha – Plus it’s only £35, what a steal!). Siobvon has split the course into easily digestible videos and they are just SO interesting! She teaches you exactly what stages your body will be going through, how to create the optimum environment to ensure the right hormones are released and gives you access to a group of ladies all sharing their POSITIVE birth stories! That’s right, birth can be positive and people are talking about it, you just have to drown out the negative ones first.
Now I’m by no means saying you should go into this all rainbows and butterflies and ignore what could go wrong. Quite the opposite actually. Hypnobirthing gives you the tools and information to really KNOW what your body is doing and allows you to make your own informed choices and decisions based on this. So many women go into birth feeling completely out of control and just go with whatever they are told by the professionals because they don’t know that they have other options. Being clued up on as much as possible means you can ask the right questions and find a solution that suits you rather than feeling that you’re being forced into something you don’t want and having a potentially traumatic experience. I honestly believe that everyone should do hypnobirthing purely for this fact, to feel in control, calm and empowered through your birth experience (not scared, confused and helpless.)
Knowledge is power.
I mentioned this in my last blog post but the Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill goes really well with the hypnobirthing side of things and this could be a starting point for you before deciding to take a course as there is a lot of similar information included.
I’ve now watched all of the digital pack’s hypnobirthing videos and feel completely ready mentally (and actually really excited) to give birth. Seeking other people’s positive experiences has been a massive help and is something I highly recommend. If you get the digital pack, like I said above, you will be able to join the Facebook group and read hundreds of positive stories (not all of which went to plan but everyone has seen the benefits of hypnobirthing on their personal experience). I’ve also watched a couple of birth stories on YouTube and would recommend Louise Pentland from Sprinkle of Glitter and Ruth from Bright Mama.
So after getting as clued up as possible and seriously considering what I want and need, it was time to draft my birth plan. I have to say, I REALLY enjoyed doing this and cannot stop looking at it haha. I knew in my heart what I really wanted (a home, water birth) but felt for a while that this was silly, unachievable and a bit of a faff. But the more I learned and really considered my options, the more I realised it’s what I truly wanted, that it was a perfectly acceptable and actually not that difficult to set up. At my 30 week midwife appointment I plucked up the courage to tell her I wanted a home birth, expecting backlash and a fight on my hands, but she was SO supportive and actually got really excited about it. It was like a rush of relief flooded over me because it’s so much easier to be strong in your decisions when you have the support of those around you. I remember telling my mum that I was considering a home birth and I thought she was going to go off on one, I could tell she thought it was a silly idea and that I was being irresponsible but didn’t want to hinder my experience in any way. Since then, after explaining what I’ve learned and with friends of hers having bad hospital experiences, she could not be more on board and is just as excited as I am. Jon, I’m still working on, he’s not opposed to it but also hasn’t watched the video’s yet so doesn’t understand why I’m dead set on the idea.
My birth plan was made using the positive birth company’s template and the icons mentioned in Milli Hill’s book. The reason the icons are so good is because your midwife can take a quick glance at the page and get a feel for what you need rather than reading lengthy paragraphs (especially helpful if things are progressing quickly). The template is also great because it gives you space to plan for every eventuality. For example, my preference is a home water birth but I’ve also included what I would prefer should I need an unplanned c section or induction. It’s a lot easier to think about those things now than in the moment. It also means that your birth partner will be fully informed of your choices and can have these discussions for you, leaving you in the zone. You should only have one job during birth and that is to give birth! Your birth partner is such an integral part of the process, they should be communicating on your behalf, ensuring that the plan is being kept to as best possible and letting you know what a great job your doing (preferably while feeding you biscuits and juice).
So how are we planning for the home birth?
All going well our midwife will come and do a home visit at 36 weeks to check the flat is suitable (not 100% sure what that means and would definitely question the decision if told it’s not) and to talk us through how it all works i.e. how and when to contact the midwife, any complications that might occur and the possibility of transferring to a hospital if necessary (all of which I am totally prepared for and we are literally about a 10-15 min drive from the hospital, but you would get an ambulance anyway). I’ve got my heart set on a water birth and being in a flat is not going to deter me from this. Once we have the go ahead from the midwife I’m looking to order the mini birth pool from Bare Foot Birth Pools, as well as a tarpaulin to go underneath it. It literally comes with everything you need, is dropped off to you and collected again when you’re done. I’ll also be purchasing some Tena bed pads (SO sexy) to put on the floor/ sofa / bed, wherever is necessary really, in order to minimise mess. And of course we will need a shit ton of towels. I’m getting some battery powered tea lights to create a nice relaxing atmosphere and plan to have some lavender / clary sage on the go. For the actual birth this is pretty much all that’s needed but I also want to treat myself to a new nighty (I don’t own one and feel that this would be easier to wear in the early stages of labour), some fresh loungewear for after, a big cosy dressing gown, a hot water bottle for pain relief and some giant black pants (already purchased from Tesco). We will of course have snacks on hand and I’ve heard Lucozade sport is a good one for keeping energy levels up.
Basically my dream is for the early stages of labour to be spent eating and watching Christmas films, either cuddled up with Jon on the sofa or bouncing on my birth ball to get things going. In the later stages I want to be in the pool for pain relief, I want it to be a calm and safe environment surrounded by the most important people to me (my husband and my mum). I want to scoop my baby girl out of the water and into my arms, in front of the twinkling lights of my Christmas tree and just take it all in. After getting cleaned up and sorted out I want to move to the sofa or to bed, in the comfort of my own home with my precious daughter in my arms and to spend the rest of the day cuddled up as a family just staring at her and falling in love.
I’m a big believer in putting the things you want out into the universe in order to receive them and that is what I’m doing. My perfect birth scenario is out there and I hope that it will be mine but I’m also realistic and open to whatever we have to do to get our little girl safely into the world.
I have by no means gone into depth on everything I’ve learned while preparing for birth because I would be here all day and this is already a mammoth post but as I’m sure you can tell I’m totally passionate about empowering women through their birth experience and ensuring that they are as informed as possible, so if you have any questions I would be more than happy to answer them and will link what I can in the post itself. (I recommend sending me a message on Instagram because I often miss the comments on here).
Next step for me is learning all about breastfeeding because it’s something I would really like to do, if I can and I’ve heard that being prepared (and powering through the tough times) is absolutely key for success.