OK, OK. I’m not saying throw out the birth plan altogether. If you’re anything like me (i.e. a control freak), it can really help you to focus on your birth preferences in the run up to D-Day. The trouble is, there can be a tendency to overly focus on it. My first plan was a full A4 page of hypno-birthing techniques, active labour requirements and I think I even mentioned the lighting. I highlighted bits, imagining that the midwives would settle themselves down with a cuppa and a Digestive to study my carefully thought-out wishes whilst I silently swayed my way through a contraction.
As it turned out, the baby just didn’t fancy making an appearance and needed a little extra help. I had been so determined to birth naturally, in water, that for weeks afterwards I felt liked I’d failed. Just a little bit.
Despite the visualisations, the calming playlist, the breathing techniques, obviously the birthing plan means sweet FA when a human is making its way out via an exit the size of a Cheerio (expandable or not, it is what it is). I laugh about it now, but being pushed in a wheelchair from the “natural” birthing wing to delivery suite contracting, well, like a mother, with only a thin sheet precariously draped over my naked body is not something I care to repeat. I mean, I had to go in a public lift! With PEOPLE IN IT! I remember catching sight of myself in the mirror (why do they put mirrors in hospital lifts? Who wants to see what they look like in a hospital?) and, even in my state of other-worldly pain, I thought “Jesus, I look awful.” Worst bit is, I didn’t even want the sheet on me. Thank God some kind soul at St George’s Hospital denied me my wishes on that one.
Second time round, there were three sentences on my birth plan, roughly communicating the following:
“Just going to see how it goes. Will have epidural if I need one. Main preferences are to not vomit, shout at the midwife or shit myself. But can guarantee nothing.”
So, yep, had the epidural thank you very much. I was convinced the midwife was denying me the drugs on purpose because I was doing “so well.” I remember during early contractions asking for next door’s speakers to be turned down a bit. They were piping in calming music but just too loud and, you know, I was trying to relax and breathe etc. Well, fast forward 3cm and I was banging on our adjoining wall for want of something inanimate to hit and yelling with every ounce of effort I could muster. I could have probably forgiven her a bit of Bublé in retrospect.
Some women write a birth plan and manage to stick to it, to the letter. Most women don’t, so my advice is to note down the biggies – who do you want with you? Do you want the cord cut straight away? Do you want the baby to have the Vitamin K injection? – and then focus on learning some relaxation techniques in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
And if the worst happens and you shit yourself/vomit/scream at the midwife? Seriously, they’ve seen it all before and will deal with it. Poor loves.