How to take control of your birth
Updated: 5 days ago
One of the biggest worries that often crops up, is the feeling of not knowing what is going to happen during birth. That it is unpredictable. This can lead to a feeling of not having any control over the experience. It can also mean we don't see the point in a birth plan - as plans can change.
But two things can be true at the same time: Yes, birth is unpredictable, and Yes, you can have control.
So when it comes to taking control in birth, here are my 4 top tips.
1. The Journey to Birth Planning
Let's imagine you are driving to a restaurant in Edinburgh or Glasgow that you haven't been to before. So you pop it into Google Maps on your phone and it gives you 3 options with varying times and routes. You choose the one that is right for you - perhaps the quickest route or the one that seems the simplest. Off you go on your preferred route.
But every journey is unpredictable - a little like birth! It might go perfectly to plan and you reach your destination. Or you might come across something unexpected - a crash, road works, or just very heavy traffic on your preferred route. Your rational brain runs through options - stay in your lane, it may take a bit longer, or head off following a suggested diversion that your phone recommends. Whichever option you take - you will reach your destination and you know this.
You remain in control - the choice is yours.
At no point when planning your journey, would you decide to drive to the restaurant via every back road possible, just in case there were roadworks or a crash.
Your birth plan is similar. You should absolutely plan your ideal birth and if that doesn't work out, in that moment you adapt, like the capable woman you are. It is your decision to make, and yours alone. At no point should you assume the worst will happen and so jump straight to an emergency c-section from the moment you arrive at the hospital!
If you don't have a plan, its a bit like calling a taxi - yes you will ultimately reach your destination, but you will have absolutely no control of the journey. The taxi driver will make that plan for you. In birth, your taxi driver is the midwife, and with the best intentions, they will make a plan for you. From where you give birth to how your placenta is birthed, they will decide. And once they do it is far harder to take back control in the moment. If they show you through to the delivery suite on the labour ward to the room they have prepared, it is harder to then request a water birth on the AMU between contractions.
On my course I recommend you write 3 birth plans and we spend time in the class doing this:
Plan A - your Absolute ideal birth plan, the preferred route.
Plan B - your Back up options.
Plan C - Caesarean. Just in case your route should lead you here, it is always worth understanding the choices and options you have in this case.
Please don't expect your midwife to do this with you at an appointment - they don't have time for that between urine samples and blood tests so it is up to you to write it and then you can discuss it together. You might have seen lovely visual birth plans, but write your plan in the NHS Badger Notes App. This is the best way to get it seen by all on your care team. I have an interactive e-book available here that will take you through all 25 questions asked in the App - you get this free on the course.
Just remember, you are in control of writing your plan and of any changes to it.