On a daily basis, we all make plans and decisions about our working and personal lives, and we all have a certain way in which we like things done right? ….no matter how small it is…
We make plans when we become engaged, we organize stuff, ask friends, make appointments to try on wedding gowns, meet the minister, the florist, the caterers, arrange the Hen night, the flowers, the invitations, the bridesmaids presents, the champagne! you get the idea, you don't just sit back and let it all happen, thinking "it'll be alright on the day! "
Being passive, and thinking " oh well they know what they're doing in the hospital, it'll be ok, does NOT maximise your chances of having a positive birth experience does it?
So along with your wedding day, your baby's BIRTHDAY is the next most important event of your life right....so why leave it to chance?
Yes, birth can be unpredictable…and as Mark Harris – male midwife says “there is no right way to birth a baby, there is only the way that YOU give birth, and the story that you’re left with afterwards.”
You've Heard Of A Birth Plan right?
So What Are Birth Preferences?
A "Birth Plan" is still used widely, and that’s ok, but it has a powerful semantic expression. I personally prefer the word "preference" as childbirth itself can be unpredictable, and by using the word "plan" are you not setting yourself up for sticking to it …. what if it doesn’t go to plan? how will you feel then, disappointed? guilty?
Making your birth preferences, gives you opportunities to write down a list, or written document of things that you would PREFER to happen, or to AVOID during your labour birth, and immediate postnatal period, regardless of whether birth happens in a pool, at home or birthing centre, in a Consultant Led unit, or in a Theatre. (not the London Palladium).
Having your preferences written down, and ensuring your awesome birth support partner reads it, means it's clear to see for those who will be caring for you on the day – midwives – Dr’s – doulas, which ultimately means; there’s
“ no negotiating on the day” – I mean who wants that! when you're trying to stay calm in your "birthing zone"
Get Clear On What You Want
Birth preparation is a part of preparing for a positive birth, you wouldn’t ROCK UP at a 10 k charity run, and expect to keep up with everyone!
Birth preferences are unique to each person, so consider what ideally would YOU like to happen.
"Giving birth is a huge life-changing event. The care that a woman receives during labour has the potential to affect her - both physically, mentally and emotionally for the rest of her life, in the short term, and longer term, and the health of her baby"
Extract from the Introduction to NICE Clinical Guideline 190
So How Do I Write My Birth Preferences?
Writing your birth preferences does not have to be difficult or complicated, it’s not a necessity of preparation, but here are some ideas you may want to consider, that you or your partner may not have thought of :
Oh and another thing, most importantly your birth partner needs to be aware of all the environmental factors that can have such an impact on how you labour and give birth.
· Who do I want with me in Labour?
· Do I want the birth room to be quiet, and with as few people as possible?
· Do I want to have my baby in a pool in the Birth Centre?
· Do I want to bring my own music, or have the lights dimmed?
· Do I want my waters to release naturally, and avoid an ARM (artificial rupture of membranes)
· I want the freedom of movement, do I have to stay on the bed for long periods? can I use my birth ball?
· Do I want a physiological (natural) birth of the third stage of labour (placenta)? can I keep my placenta?
· If I have to have a Caesarean, can my partner have skin-to-skin? can my partner discover the sex of our baby?
This list is not exhaustive, there are lots of things you may want to consider…like….how you feel about having an Induction of Labour? or vaginal examinations in labour? Make sure you keep a copy of your birth preferences in your maternity notes, and another spare copy in your packed bag, for all those involved in your care to read & understand.
Once you have written your preferences, you should feel more prepared, but if you have any concerns, you can discuss these with your Midwife, as soon as you feel you need too, especially if you know you have been categorized as having a ‘high-risk’ pregnancy, and you feel there may be some ‘challenges ahead’.
YOUR Birth Is Important.
How you feel about your labour and birth, will remain with you forever. Make sure the choices you make come from a place of information, and not from a place of fear. For a list of commonly asked questions & answers click HERE
So make sure that you are as prepared as you can be, understanding and knowing ALL your birth options, will lessen any worries or anxieties - don't leave your birth to chance!