When I got pregnant, all of a sudden I was constantly wondering all of these things I’d never had to think about before.
What am I going to name the baby?
Am I going to go back to work after the baby?
Not only did I have 101 life questions to answer, but I also had 101 medical questions to consider. As a previous Labour and Delivery Nurse, and someone currently working in a Level 1 Emergency Department, I had my fair share of worries!
What I learned quickly was that mindset is everything.
I knew the broad strokes of everything I needed because of my training. I’ve also helped hundreds of new families bring their baby into the world. But it’s impossible to describe how everything feels until you are going through it yourself. My birth journey, like most, had its ups and downs. I felt like I lost myself and found myself all at the same time. It’s very similar to motherhood. What I learned quickly was that mindset is everything.
I got to a point in my pregnancy where I was told to put together a “birth plan” – how I wanted my labour and delivery experience to go. That meant I spent time figuring out what’s practical, what’s feasible, and what my health care providers and hospital had available or can accommodate. I have to be honest, I had a leg up because I knew all the in’s and out’s of what was available for options. I knew that this “birth plan” wasn’t set in stone; and that it’s really hard to accept change in the middle of labour.
And of course, like any plan, it all went out the window the day I had my son.
People make Birth Plans all of the time. But “plans” are too rigid. Too set in stone. Birth is a process that you will not know how it will play out until it is happening and will look different for each birth experience you have. No matter the best intentions behind why you made the plan.
My own birth experience completely cemented my feelings on “Birth Plans”, and because of all of these experiences, I have one major philosophy: “Plans change”. At Beyond the Bump, we talk about “Birth Preferences”.
“You HAVE to ask for an epidural the second you get to the hospital!”
“You NEED to have a completely medication-free birth!”
Ever heard these statements? I do, all the time, from well-meaning family members or friends telling new parents what worked for them and how they “have” to do things the exact same or labour will be a disaster.
First off: No one dictates what you choose or how your labour and birth goes but you. It’s your body, partner, baby, and care team. YOUR CHOICE.
As much as we all want things to go just right, it can be important to remember that there are many factors involved in birthing a child. So, how do you make your PREFERENCES known without making a birth plan? Make your Birth Preferences Guide!
All of the Empowered Birth students receive a guide to get you through your labour, pushing, birth, and postpartum period with lots of choices that you get to make. Having a guide for your care team to use will serve as both a communication tool and a way for them to get to know you.
This guide is going to help you, your partner, and your care providers get on the same page while keeping in mind that you are in charge of what happens to your body. The best way to be prepared for birth is to know your options and highlight which you prefer. That way, more of your birth preferences can be incorporated if things happen quickly. Having your preferences outlined also helps your care providers know what you would like to happen during your birth experience.
Let me encourage you to think through all options and choose how you could make each of them the best-case scenario for your family. There are many questions that I ask my clients to think about as we develop their birth preferences, but here are 10 top ones for you to consider.
When you envision your birth experience, what are the 3 main things you’d like it to include?
Who are the people you’d like to be present with during your birth experience?
What are your induction preferences?
What labouring techniques would you like to use?
When would you like to be reminded or offered coping or pain management techniques?
What medications would you like to be offered?
What pushing options do you anticipate using? Do you have care preferences in the case of a C-Section?
How would you like to receive care post-delivery?
How would you like your baby to receive care after delivery?
Are there any other important things you’d like your partner or care team to know?