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Birth plan...or not?

(22 Posts)
Deliaskis Wed 10-Nov-10 15:52:47

Hi ladies,

My first tentative foray into the scary world of childbirth, aka how on earth does this thing get out of me?

I'm 26 weeks with first baby so this is all new for me, and was surprised by something the MW said yesterday so thought I would ask you wise ladies.

People on here seem to talk quite a bit about birth plans, and so I had assumed that everybody had one, and then MW said yesterday, see how you feel at the AN classes, some people want one, some people just go with the flow and see what happens/what they think they need at the time.

So I was a bit surprised, and am now wondering about the pros and cons. Pros of course include having your wishes known and making it clear to everyone how you would like things to happen. But I can't help thinking that there must also be an element of trying to keep things to plan when sometimes it's just not possible, or you change your mind. Does this then give people a feeling of not having done what they 'really' wanted, or having 'failed' if e.g. they wanted minimal pain relief and ended up having loads, as opposed to their only expectations being to arrive at the hospital pregnant, and leave the hospital a mother.

So, thoughts and experiences please...did you do one, are you glad you did, do you regret it, did you stick to it, if not, how did that make you feel? Did you not have one and wish you had? Do you think they're important, or rather like new year's resolutions (designed to be forgotten about 3 days after they've been dreamt up)?

Really appreciate people's thoughts. (Am talking about hospital birth, if that's relevant to people's answers).

BornToFolk Wed 10-Nov-10 16:05:54

I did one...and it stayed in the car the whole time I was in hospital! grin

I wanted a pool birth, no pain relief other than gas and air, etc etc and I ended up with pethidine and a spinal block having DS delivered by ventouse after I was induced.

However, even though pretty much nothing went to plan, I'm still really glad that I wrote one. By writing one, it meant that I'd thought about the options, what was important to me, and what I really wasn't so fussed about. I did research and discussed things with my midwife. It also meant that me and DP had to have conversations about what could happen/what might happen.

DS's birth was traumatic in some ways but I don't feel like I failed because I didn't follow the birth plan. Things changed, and DP and I had to make decisions as we went along but the research and thinking that we'd done meant that they were informed decisions.

I also found that some things I thought would happen automatically, like skin to skin contact after birth, actually didn't. The midwife tried to take DS away to wash and dress him and we had to ask her not to and to give him to me for skin to skin.

You have to assess what's really important to you, and be prepared to argue for them if it comes to it. Also, don't expect anyone at the hospital to actually look at your birth plan. Like I say, mine stayed in the car. It was only when we were going home that I realised it was still in the glove box!

Good luck!

theborrower Wed 10-Nov-10 16:20:24

Hi - congratulations on your pregnancy!

I wrote a birth plan but it went to pot - it was only when I was in labour and being assessed/admitted to hospital that they discovered baby was breech and did an emergency C section. I was disappointed and it took me a while to get over it, but I really should remember that the safest way for a baby to be born is the best way.

However, some of my birth plan did come into play - I used a TENS machine at home, and I had also written down that if a C Section was necessary that I wanted my husband to accompany me and tell me the sex of our baby - he got to do this, so our wishes were honoured here. I had also stated that I planned to breastfeed and wanted lots of support, which I (think) I got in hospital.

I do think it's wise to think through your options in advance (think about pros and cons of different pain relief etc) and put your thoughts in your hospital notes (perhaps pinned on the inside page), as well as letting your birth partner know too.

That said - I think you should be prepared to be flexible! You just don't know what may happen and you don't know your own pain threshold/how your contractions will feel until they happen. One thing I learned while in hospital was that EVERYONE had a different birth story - in fact, I don't think I've ever heard two the same. So I would say - read up, think about what you would like to happen and go for it, but be prepared to be flexible and don't feel bad if things don't turn out the way you may have hoped.

Good luck!

Deliaskis Wed 10-Nov-10 16:21:23

Thanks BornToFolk that's a good perspective. Important to have thought through the options, even if you end up having completely not what you thought you would. Better than them offering x, y or z and thinking hmmm don't really know the pros and cons of that.

Also useful about not assuming things, and also about having discussed with partner. Thanks for your perspective on this.

BTW I hope my post didn't imply that people had 'failed' if things hadn't gone as planned, just that I could see that sometimes with hormones/emotional state etc. it could be something that people might beat themselves up about, even though they shouldn't!


Deliaskis Wed 10-Nov-10 16:25:25

Thanks also theborrower, I hadn't thought about the usefulness of some of it being used, if not all of it, and also about finding out about baby's sex etc. after C section, so you've given me more food for thought!

Thanks for sharing your experiences.


theborrower Wed 10-Nov-10 16:41:11

Deliaskis - I did feel like I failed by having an emergency C section, and was disappointed that I didn't get to push her out as I thought I'd missed out on something special. But as the doctors explained at the time(and my Dr at my post natal check discussed with me), it was the safest way for my baby to be born and she's certainly healthy and thriving, so I've nothing to feel 'guilty' about. I felt really stupid and guilty for feeling this way but having spoken to a friend who also had a emergency c section, she said she had felt the same, so I guess it's quite common.

But this is why I think if people are going to write a birth plan they should think about all the possibilities. A friend recently planned a homebirth and was so against going into hospital or having a C section I was so worried for her if it didn't turn out how she wanted and there had to be interventions. But luckily, she had a beautiful baby at home just as she wanted

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Wed 10-Nov-10 16:43:04

I did one, and talked it through with the MW at my antenatal appointments. Was v. useful for me as it meant that she didn't try and give me sweeps when I went overdue. Was definitely worth discussing it before hand though - helped me cut down from 4 sides of A4 blush to one. It also helped me see what the sticking points would be - I was dead against internal exams and the MW was a bit hmm so that bit went in my birth plan in bold.

When I went to the hospital it was the first thing the Mws read, and good thing to as I was in no state to be discussing it at that stage.

I think that even if things don't go to plan, it is still useful as the MWs have an idea of your preferred ethos of the birth and try to stick to the spirit if not the letter of the plan.

tiokiko Wed 10-Nov-10 16:55:16

I did one and am glad that I did even though a) for various reasons it didn't go to 'plan' and b) the hosp MWs literally didn't even look at it.

I thought it was a good idea as it gave me and DH a chance to talk about various options/possibilities before the action started, and also meant that DH and my mum (other birth partner) knew what I was hoping for and would be able to support me/speak up for me if needed.

I had hoped for a water birth but couldn't use the pool as I had high BP; I'd not set my heart on it though as I knew the hosp only had one and it might have been busy anyway.

Everything else went as I'd hoped in terms of trying to go with TENS and G&A but keeping an open mind if other pain relief was needed etc.

Useful to think about other stuff apart from just pain relief which everyone focuses on - eg episotomy vs tearing, natural/managed 3rd stage, hoping to BF so no FF top ups etc.

But definitely don't set your heart on one particular route, just set out what you think you'd like to try at this stage but see how you go on the day.

mum2oneloudbaby Wed 10-Nov-10 17:18:05

it's worth writing one to get to understand your own perspective on your options.

It certainly won't be followed to the letter if there are any complications or any medical reason not to but it will at least give the mw an idea of the kind of birth you are hoping for and where your strong opinions are.

Also important is that your birth partner can understand as well and be your advocate when you may not be able to make yourself fully understood.

I think the most important thing on mine was that if it wasn't going to plan and intervention of some kind is needed please explain why, what and how things need to happen, what the options are and what the benefits and risks of them are.

As for mw's not reading them both of my mws read mine for both dcs and they actually followed them and discussed any points that needed to be discussed with me. DC1 was not to plan at all and the mw did discuss things and explain my options to me so that I could make decisions. I may just have been very lucky to have good mws but I don't think so.

ZombiePlan Wed 10-Nov-10 19:08:16

I would suggest writing one a bit like a flowchart - i.e. if x happenss then I would like y. Think of it as a series of plans for all eventualities rather than a decription of your ideal birth.

Marjee Wed 10-Nov-10 20:43:38

Like borntofolk I had assumed that the things I wanted would happen anyway - ie being encouraged to stay upright and letting dh cut the cord. I didn't write a birth plan because they were really the only 2 things I felt strongly about, I was happy to go with the flow on everything else and thought I could just tell the mw what I wanted at the time. In the event I was already pushing when I was admitted and they made me lay on the bed and delivered ds by ventouse as his heartrate dropped. I doubt whether there would have been time for them to read my birth plan anyway but I do regret not writing one because I think that if they had just let me push in a better position for a short while I could maybe have managed without the ventouse but its one of those things that we'll never know sad. Dh was pretty gutted about not getting to cut the cord too, I will definitely be writing a birth plan next time and stapling it to my notes!

japhrimel Wed 10-Nov-10 21:54:38

My birth plan is a one-sheet way of me getting down important info about me & my wishes in a number of situations, from what I'd ideally like to do to my preferences if I have a C-section (e.g. skin-to-skin immediately if possible if I have a CS with spinal anaesthetic). My MW said that having it on there that I want to breastfeed is also important. It's also at the top of my "plan" that my birth partner will be my husband, with his name. smile

RhinestoneCowgirl Wed 10-Nov-10 22:00:51

Think of it less as a 'plan', more as birth preferences i.e. I would prefer to be active in labour, I would prefer to use the pool etc.

Mine also had names of my birth partners (DH and my mum first time, them plus a doula 2nd time) and stuff about after delivery e.g. skin to skin, feeding etc

Bobby99 Wed 10-Nov-10 22:05:44

I had a birth plan, and none of it happened the way I'd hoped! But I saw the 'plan' as just a note of my preferences if everything went ok. I put things like 'I would like an unmanaged third stage if the birth is completely natural' - and in the end I had a big tear that needed stitching straight away so there was no time for an unmanaged third stage. And various other things like that too. But it's good to think about it all and have an idea what you'd like, then take the midwife's advice at the time about whether your preferences are the most sensible thing to do in the circumstances.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Wed 10-Nov-10 22:07:12

I did one, but not until I was 2 weeks overdue with ds1!

I had run out of other things to do!

piscesmoon Wed 10-Nov-10 22:16:11

I wouldn't bother.
1.With my first it was all going to be new so how could I possibly know in advance?
2.I think that it may doom you to disappointment if it doesn't live up to your expectations.
3. The staff probably have to worry about silly little details-I would rather they didn't have to be distracted.
4. If you do your own thing for as long as possible you can just do what you like anyway.
5. Much better to get on friendly terms and make it up as you go along.

Good luck. I had 3 lovely, natural births without any plans.It all seems too precious to me-go with the flow!

PassionKiss Wed 10-Nov-10 22:17:52

I didn't write it down but I had an idea of what I wanted and discussed it with DH. I'm so glad we had talked it through beforehand as he asked for the pool when we got to the hospital while I had forgotten all about it by that stage.

I was lucky that I got the birth I wanted (pool with gas&air only). Next time I would consider writing a few things down - for example for the baby to be handed to me first. Like BorntoFolk said above, I assumed that the baby would be handed to me for skin to skin but in fact the midwife gave her to DH first!

BiscuitBob Wed 10-Nov-10 23:19:58

I did one, but it all totally went out of the window when absolutely nothing went to plan. Personally I think they are pointless and certainly wouldn't bother with one again.

However, I would agree that is important to think about all your options before the birth and discuss them with your partner and midwife. So at least you are aware of things.

From my own and friends experiences though, it seems that births rarely go to plan, so whatever you do, keeping an open mind is the most important thing!

nattiecake Wed 10-Nov-10 23:20:04

I didnt write one, not that it would have been read anyway as it was a quick labour, my BP skyrocketed cause of the speed and baba got distressed and had to be hoovered out.

I ideally only wanted g&a, and ended up not having time to have anything else anyway. And I had agreed to vit K and the jab to get the placenta out (cant remember what its called, lol!) and the hospital I gave birth in automatically gives the baby to mum for skin to skin, so I didnt feel there was anything else that I needed to specify, as everything I wanted was pretty standard.

Deliaskis Thu 11-Nov-10 09:16:45

Thanks to all who have responded, it's all really useful, great to have so many insights and it's helped me decide how to go forward.


goodlifemummy Thu 11-Nov-10 14:07:22

I am doing mine tomorrow with the mw - I am a vbac and would also call it my birth preferences rather than a plan. I know what I want, but I also know these things don't always go to plan, so will try to keep an open mind!!

pinkpeony Thu 11-Nov-10 14:28:40

I didn't do one for DC1, decided to go with the flow and remain open minded as it was all going to be new and for all I knew things wouldn't go according to plan or like my sister's/mother's labours (and they didn't!). I did research all the options for the decisions I might have to make though during the delivery. Didn't regret it, and with hindsight don't think one was necessary - I decided I would see when the time comes how I dealt with pain and whether I would want pain relief, etc. Not going to make a birth plan for DC2 either. The midwives and doctors continue to talk to you all through delivery and you can still give them your preferences and instructions then - just because you're in labour, doesn't mean the dialogue stops. Agree with the other posters that it's helpful to think through the options before birth, so you have an idea of what you want once you are in labour and need to make some decisions.

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