Sharing the pregnancy journey with my hypnobirthing mamas has been one of my favourite things about being knocked up this time. When you consider that other elements of the experience have included zero rest (toddler), extreme fatigue (anaemia) and the constant anxiety about how I will cope with 2 children, perhaps there was always a clear winner in there.
But genuinely, walking the walk alongside the gang has been wonderful.
As the talk turns to birth plans with those whose arrivals are expected before too long, I’ve had a few requests to share my own for inspiration. Of course I hadn’t written it yet #badteacher but will let it flow from my mind to the screen below…
You’ll find my notes to you in italics.
Keri Jarvis Birth Plan
Birth Partner: husband, Nick
Thank you for supporting us as we welcome our son. (This person reading is going to play a huge part in your experience, acknowledge this, be grateful and polite).
We are hypnobirthing. For us, this means the following are important: (good idea to set out your big priorities, set the scene from the off).
- dimmed lights
- quiet and peaceful environment
- no unnecessary conversation
- no reference to pain or contractions, instead, if required, please ask about sensations and surges
Intermittent monitoring is welcome, you have my permission and there is no need to ask. (No need to keep ‘waking’ to give permission).
I do not consent to any vaginal examinations at any point during the labour. If any concerns evolve, I may reconsider, but this is my starting point. (This is an important one for me, you may well make a different choice. For me, getting on my back at any point is going to be a big no, as is the discomfort of an examination. Experience and knowledge tells me my cervix is not a crystal ball, and I don’t want to be discouraged by fixation with a number).
I do not wish to be offered any pain relief. I will be utilising breathing, relaxation and massage techniques with my husband, and the water when I feel ready. (We might be moving through labour, feeling we are on track- an offer of pain relief can be unhelpful- like someone offering you cake when you’re on a diet, planting seeds of doubt in your mind. Of course, if you want it, you can ask for it).
I intend to move freely throughout labour, and haven’t decided whether to deliver in or out of the water, I will see how I feel at the time. (Just an FYI for the midwife so she is in the picture with my intentions).
Please direct any non-urgent concerns to my husband in the first instance, so that I am not disturbed. (Engaging the neo-cortex is unhelpful for labour progression, as is a suggestion of danger).
As the baby descends, please refrain from any direction or coaching for pushing. Please do not suggest the valsalva manouvere. I will be utilising breathing techniques to support my body’s natural expulsive reflex. I will ask for support if I feel unsure at all. (This is the point at which my clients tell me previously quiet caregivers have begun to give direction, so culturally engrained is the PUSH 2-3-4…. – it’s important to me to follow my body’s own lead, and evidence suggests this is just as efficient overall as coached pushing).
In or out of the water, I will be upright for delivery, please do not provide any hands on support as the baby emerges, except to receive the baby if needed. (When Louis was born, the midwife took it upon herself to start running her finger around my vagina to stretch the tissues. There is conflicting evidence as to the effectiveness of this, with some studies suggesting it actually increases the risk of perineal trauma.)
I would like the baby immediately placed on my abdomen, and to be undisturbed, and would like the environment to remain calm and quiet. Please don’t rub the baby down unless there is a genuine indication he requires stimulation. (Put yourself in the baby’s position- come from darkness, living in fluid, all sounds muffled by it, knowing only the mother’s heartbeat and voice- prioritising a gentle transition for the baby is a priority for me).
Cord to be clamped only when it has stopped pulsating, and I have given expressed consent. We will be using a cord tie instead of a clip, please let us know whether you are happy to apply it, or if you would prefer one of us to do it. We would like you to do the actual cutting of the cord please. (I’ve heard some rumblings about a reluctance to tie over clip. Regardless, this is what we will be opting for- no horrid scratchy plastic against baby’s skin. And I’m getting a matching bracelet for my toddler… Oh, and hubs has zero interest in cutting the cord. Sort of socially expected but really, why should he?!)
Natural 3rd stage as a strong preference, depending upon blood loss during labour (this was an issue for me last time, although it came to no consequence). I will decide after baby is born whether to consider the injection in the circumstances. Please don’t administer without my expressed permission. (There is some evidence linking a managed 3rd stage to breastfeeding difficulties. Plus if birth has gone well, we may as well give the remainder of the process a chance at least. But I recognise the risks in specific circumstances and will eventually be flexible).
Undisturbed skin to skin with baby for one hour, hopeful to initiate breastfeeding during this time, but require no hands on support, thank you. Looking to maximise my chance of a healthy, efficient 3rd stage by maintaining a calm environment and undisturbed contact with baby. (The golden hour- mama, baby, getting to know each other, physiologically continuing the birth process, falling in love and connecting. What’s not to love? And hands on breastfeeding support is shown to impact negatively on women achieving their feeding goals).
Vitamin K to be administered via injection, I would ideally like to be feeding baby as its done. (Last time we went oral Vit K, I’ve since learnt it’s less effective. In for a penny, in for a pound. Feeding babies demonstrate less pain signals- oxytocin, endorphins doing their work).
Throughout your time in our home, you are very welcome to help yourself to hot and cold drinks and snacks which we will leave out for you in the kitchen. I don’t feel I will need continuous presence, so do feel free to make yourself comfortable and relax between monitoring etc, as suits you. (Be kind to your midwife- we react to each other’s hormones, fill her with oxytocin and it will benefit you. We will have selection of drinks, plus fruit, cake, cookies, toast available. Maybe a few magazines. Plus it’s nice to be nice).
FYI our son, Louis, nearly 3 will most likely be in the house with us throughout. (In the name of all that is good in the world, let him sleep through it *prays*).
There it is- if you think I’ve missed something, let me know and I’ll edit- writing as I watch Lady and the Tramp with toddles. Hardly good for the concentration.
I guess my plan can be summed up as- please don’t touch me or talk to me. Be there just in case. This won’t be appropriate for everyone, but this is my ideal.
If we know we are likely to experience a more intervention heavy scenario than our ideal, it is useful to plan for this too. Of course, this can take us by surprise. For me, this principles outlined at the top can be applied in just about any situation. I may come back with an extra portion of plan for the “What if…” Scenarios.
Happy planning mamas xx