Writing down what you want from your birth is such an interesting and complex idea that many people opt out of having a birth plan at all and take the “go with the flow approach”. I am not one of those people; my birth preferences were a short dissertation, no stone was unturned, no intervention was not researched, and I thought, quite confidently, that I had covered all bases.
I had not. My birth was unpredictable and not the birth I had so intently meditated on daily for the past 6 months. To be completely honest, my birth preference sheet did not even leave the bag! Granted, I probably knew it off by heart and my birth partner had been subjected to ‘Birth preference revision sessions’- Yes, you read that correctly I would make him sit down while I showed him a powerpoint presentation of my preferences…
Now, as I said my birth ‘did not go to plan’ as some would say but, I will cut to the chase here, I very much still think you need to know your birth preferences. Oh, and my birth was still beautiful and empowering, no horror story to be had here. So, why do I think you still need birth preferences?
- Your birth preferences put your birth in your hands. If you were to simply ‘go with the flow’ then you are already agreeing for the decisions around your birth to be decided by someone else; namely the medical professionals around you. A simple example is where you give birth, if you note no preferences then you are automatically considered to want a hospital birth, which may not suit everyone.
- During your birth you can be faced with a multitude of questions and decisions; even as you are labouring; further to this, you are often given descriptions of procedures and statistics and taking on very heavy information in this setting can be challenging. If, however, you have done some research in advance then you can make quicker decisions. Additionally, if you and your birth partner have worked on your preferences together, then they can successfully be your advocate during your birth.
- Researching and learning about birth, alongside your birth partner, is a fascinating experience; where you not only learn about how incredible the female body is but you also learn a lot about yourself and your partner. If you opt out of birth preparation then you miss out on this fantastic opportunity of learning with each other.
For me, detailed birth preferences ensured that I felt empowered during and after my birth took an unexpected route; this was of the utmost importance to me. But, would I change anything? Yes. I would be more flexible, I would treat my birth plan as a ‘preference’ and truly accept if it takes a different route it does not mean that I am less empowered or the birth will be a less beautiful experience. Therefore be prepared and focused, but be flexible and accepting of all eventualities.