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Are you bothering with a birth plan ?

(19 Posts)
Fibilou Mon 12-Oct-09 13:40:07

I'm a first time mum and am torn between the thought that writing a plan for something I have never experienced before is a self indulgent exercise in futility and that it would be a good idea to have my thoughts and preferences decided beforehand.

To be honest it would be more like a "preferences for birth" but I'm still wondering if they're just a tool for you to retain the illusion that you can influence what happens in your birth - and I'm wondering if that is at all realistic and setting yourself up for failure.

Fibilou Mon 12-Oct-09 13:42:10

By failure I don't mean that you can actually "fail" at birth - I mean the thoughts of failure that lots of women have when their births don't fit their "plan"

BornToFolk Mon 12-Oct-09 13:44:59

IMHO, they're worth doing. Mine stayed in the car the whole time, and I don't think that any of it was followed, but I did lots of research while writing it which helped me to be prepared for what did happen.

It also helped me to work out what was really important (like establishing breastfeeding) and what was less so (I didn't want any pain relief other than G&A but was open to the possibility that I might need some...I did!) And it made me and DP talk about the birth and what was worrying us.

Tis a good exercise I think, just try not to think in terms of "it has to be this way or I will have failed" but you don't sound like you'd be that way.

Fibilou Mon 12-Oct-09 13:50:53

I have to say that thinking about it has made me face the reality of epidurals, establishing BFing and the chance of transfer and instrumental delivery !

flybynight Mon 12-Oct-09 13:51:59

It is worth having an ideal world scenario in your head, I think. It gives you something to aim for or to try to stay close to when you have to make unexpected choices. An open mind on the day is essential though! If you change your mind when it happens, that isn't a failure, just a revision based on more information being available (Like "I can't put up with another three hours of THIS!")

My first labour was very fast, I was crowning in the hospital toilets whilst the midwives were still telling me to go home as I had hours to go. But I never felt like a failure or that things hadn't gone to plan. ANd my second, third and now fourth labours have been pretty well planned.

Good luck!

Tigresswoods Mon 12-Oct-09 13:57:34

First timer here too and my thoughts are not so much to write a birth plan for me or the midwives and Drs but more things for my DH to know/remember.

For example. Bring money for car park. I like having my hair stroked, I do NOT like having my arm stroked. Offer me snacks and drinks.

I will also involve him in packing the hospital bag to counter the inevitable,

"Get me the xyz!"

"Where is it?

"In the bag"

"But where...?"

Anything to help him feel more comfortable with the whole thing as I don't think I will!

Fibilou Mon 12-Oct-09 14:04:42

My DH is going to get a smack in the face if he tries stroking any part of me as I can't bear it at the best of times !

Tigresswoods Mon 12-Oct-09 14:19:03

Put it all in the plan Fibilou, put it all in the plan... smile

julietbat Mon 12-Oct-09 14:20:23

I wrote a detailed birth plan for my first labour and the reality was so far from what I'd 'planned' it was laughable. The only two things I 'wanted' and got were being able to be active and on my birthing ball for a lot of the labour and my dp telling me the sex of our baby. Other than that it was a complete work of fiction!

However, I'm now 38 weeks pregnant with dc2 and I am going to write a birth plan again. In fact, the plan will be pretty much the same as the first one I wrote. I would still like the birth I've 'planned', the only difference will be me going in to the whole experience with a HUGE dose of reality. But, as others have pointed out, the research you do is beneficial and it's always worth having something to aim for.

My only advice would be not to give yourself a hard time if it doesn't happen the way you'd like it to. That might sound obvious but I think at my antenatal classes (NCT) so much attention was paid to the 'ideal' birth that when mine ended up so far from my 'ideal' (ie, I only wanted g&a and I ended up having to have diamorphine and 2 epidurals during the 28 hour labour) I sort of blamed myself for not being 'strong' enough. That's complete crap and as long as you remember that it's fine to aim for an ideal.

I still want a drug-free labour but I also remember how much it hurtgrin.

Best of luck and hope it all goes really well for you.

ReneRusso Mon 12-Oct-09 14:58:32

Definitely do a birth plan. However it is disappointing when things don't go as you had hoped, so keep the plan flexible and realistic. I like your idea of calling it "preferences for birth".

JamesAndTheGiantBanana Mon 12-Oct-09 15:18:16

I think I wrote that I only wanted an epidural as a last resort if I really wasn't coping, so I didn't have one - however I was in A LOT of pain and I could have done with an epidural really, I couldn't communicate this at the time.

So I think it's important not to limit your choices before you know what the pain is like - you may cope very well without anything, but it's nice to have the option if not!

I think this time round I'll just ask to be as mobile as possible, only have intermittent monitoring, and have an epidural unless I really don't need one at the time.

MiniLlace Mon 12-Oct-09 15:29:03

I think im just doing a few birth bullets if that - I started out wanting a natural water birth but due to crazy BP and proteins I already know Im getting induced early and will be in a delivery suite with ALOT of intervention - bang goes the plan! .. I think for me the key has been to be as flexible as possible .. as a common theme seems to be that it rarely turns out as you perhaps first expect/would like! .. mine will really just say i want to be kept informed of what is happening at all times and asked where appropraite ... my DH has some do's and dont's but he is fully aware of these so they arent on the birth plan!

reikizen Mon 12-Oct-09 15:34:16

In my experience the women with the most detailed birth plans end up having the most complicated labours - this is especially true of the laminated one in a ring binder I saw recently! I don't know why, perhaps because they have 'overthought' the process and are still trying to control a force of nature. Lots of them tend to be out of date and ill-informed, sometimes obviously taken from American websites (for example 'no episiotomy unless needed' - I can count the number of episiotomies I've seen which did not involve an instrumental delivery on one hand)I think the best use of a birth preferences document is as you say a tool to gather information about your choices and preferences. Also be aware of the hospital itself, for example if they are baby friendly, skin to skin following birth will be routine as will breastfeeding soon after birth, rooming in and baby led feeding.
I wouldn't write one, but if I did I'd just put that I would want all interventions discussed and explained before they happen. And that mobility and an upright birth position were my preferences. Or as James says, if you want an early epidural for example so they can sort that for you straight away. Also, if you want a physiological third stage it's good to discuss any contraindications to that early on. And if you don't want Vit K for the baby so the you can give the paeds plenty of warning to come and try to bully you into in wink
Alternatively stay at home and you can do what you like when you like! grinGood luck

Chynah Mon 12-Oct-09 15:34:53

I didn't have a plan last time (el CS) but was very happy with the whole procedure and the things that were offered and done. I'd done my research and DH was also well aware of my preferences and likes/dislikes and I was more than confident that he would speak up on my behalf (as he's actually pretty good at that).

BexJ78 Mon 12-Oct-09 15:40:32

i am a first timer too, due in Dec. I asked my midwife at my 31 week appt when we were going to write the birth plan and she said: "oh we don't really do those now, they are a bit out of fashion now!" so i think what i might do is sit down with DH ans write down what i think might like on the day, but i think the key for me will be to keep open minded about it all. Good luck!

Fibilou Mon 12-Oct-09 15:47:36

"Alternatively stay at home and you can do what you like when you like"
I'm booked in at Crowborough which is the next best thing. Ideally I'd like a homebirth but we have 1) V small house 2) 6 cats 3) The pool was the most important feature for me and we just don't have the room for one.
I know if I stay at CBC that my preferences are what will happen automatically - and if I end up transferred I suppose it's all gone tits up anyway !

bubblesincambridge Tue 13-Oct-09 16:23:24

I've been wondering that too. I wonder how many women actually give birth in accordance with their birth plan? I'll bet its not many, since anything can happen once labour gets going.

Best keep an open mind and accept that it may well turn out differently.

I think all I will put on mine is that I don't want pethidine, since opiate analgesics make me throw up.

biglips Tue 13-Oct-09 16:25:08

mine did with dd2 went to according to plan and it was SPOT ON! with dd1 was emergency section so was gutted that it nearly was according to plan.

biglips Tue 13-Oct-09 16:25:45

i had a "go with the flow" plans for both

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