I know one thing’s for sure about labour, and that is that the best laid plans… well they usually go by the wayside when the time comes. And looking back, having a written-out “birth plan” as recommended by many, was SUPER stressful for me when it came time to do the real thing!
You know when you are imagining a perfectly executed holiday dinner, and then your old uncle Bob somehow manages to throw the whole thing off with his untimely bathroom jokes, or the meal ends up burnt, or just about anything that could go wrong does? Well, labour and delivery is sort of like that. Only a little more life changing?
So if it’s your first time having a baby, I suggest having a thorough conversation about what you want and don’t want in your labour and delivery experience, and make sure your partner knows your limits. The rest? Well, that’s really not going to be up to you in the end – babies don’t play by the rules and likely will do what they want while they’re on their way out of your body (however that happens – births come in all different formats). I had two very different birthing experiences and learned the hard way the second time: sorry, but only some of the birthing process can be controlled! See my story here.
I think we have been conditioned to think we can control the birthing process, and that puts a lot of pressure on a situation that is already stressful for first-time mamas. Not only that, new mamas are in for a big surprise when things don’t go exactly as intended.
Here are some questions to consider with your partner pre-labour/delivery (well before – i.e. 4-6 weeks):
- what do I absolutely need with me when I am in labour? You can always have someone pick up things for an extended stay – but once you’re in labour, you and your partner are likely on lock-down for the duration. Tell your partner what you think you’ll need. Then he/she can be on top of it.
- are we telling anyone when we go into labour and if so who? how are we telling them?
- when in labour will we go to the hospital?
- if the hospital says “you’re not ready to deliver” what will we do?
- what medications for pain is mama comfortable with, if any?
- how will mama indicate that it’s time for pain meds?
- what support will mama need when the going gets rough, and how will that be administered? (For me, my instruction was: don’t leave my side ever, unless I say it’s ok).
- what decisions is the birth partner able to make on behalf of mama, if she can’t make those herself? i.e. medical interventions
What were your experiences creating a “birth plan” and how did they pan out?
(The above pic is me, on my way out of the hospital after being told: ‘you’re not ready’ to deliver baby #2, only to return 5 hours later to deliver my baby boy just 19 minutes after I checked in. Couldn’t plan that if we tried!)