It's time to talk birth plans! You could say that I'm on a bit of a PR mission - raising the status of the humble birth plan. And in all my questions and conversations one thing is for certain: Not many people have a clear understanding of what a birth plan actually is.
I keep hearing about flexibility; reasonable-ness; unpredictability; preferences and wishes; expectations; and disappointment when "it doesn't go according to plan".
Let's get one thing clear from the start - a birth plan isn't about planning how your birth will go.
It's not: I will go into labour at 39 weeks and will labour at home for 10 hours and then transfer to hospital where I will give birth an hour later with no complications.
It's also not: I will have a VBAC
And it's not even: I want an unmedicated birth.
These are (albeit incomplete) birth goals.
Your birth plan is simply the communication tool used to share your informed decisions regarding your care provider's plan for your birth. Generally the decisions that you make will be aimed at helping you to achieve your goal.
Huh? My care provider has a plan for MY birth?
Oh yes they do! This is their policies and guidelines and all the other things that they want you to do. This is THEIR expectations for your birth and your care. This is THEIR preferences and wishes for your behaviour and decisions.
Big question about birth plan culture: Why is it okay for your care provider to have expectations and plans for how your birth will go and how you will be treated, but it's not okay for you?
This is YOUR birth!
So check out your care provider's plans and start making decisions about how you feel about them and whether they will get you to where you want to go.
Start researching ALL the policies and guidelines. Ask your care provider what they expect of you and your birth. Ask them what they expect in terms of how they will "manage" your pregnancy and birth.
Then remember: That's just their preferences and wishes. Certainly nothing that you are obligated to assist them with!
Birth plans are a fabulous tool for ensuring that everyone is clear about:
How you expect to be treated;
The decisions that you have made regarding routine procedures;
How you have positioned yourself, in terms of power, within the care relationships.
And a thorough birth planning process ensures that you are completely and confidently able to navigate and "be flexible" in response to changes in circumstances. It ensures that you are able to follow your body. It ensures that you know the difference between policy and health. It ensures that you have positioned yourself as the power in YOUR story.
A thorough and effective birth plan NEVER fails. Because it's not designed to achieve anything other than open and effective communication between you and your team. You change every single thing on your birth plan, through empowered decisions based on your health and in response to the circumstances at the time, and it can still be 100% successful.
And if you change things due to lack of support, bullying, or misinformation? That is a failure on the part of your care provider's and / or support team. That's not on you or your birth plan.
So let's start talking positively about birth plans and what they are: a great tool to communicate your decisions and expectations.
Ready to reclaim your power with a freaking awesome and aligned birth plan? And willing to do all the preparation work that ensures it is a truly powerful process? Click here to book in a free coffee chat to see how I can best support you!
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