The one thing almost EVERYONE puts in their birth plan, that they really shouldn’t…
OK, let’s get a little controversial here today. I’m just going to come out and say that you SHOULDN’T include where you want to give birth in your birth plan… i.e. there’s no need to state that you want to give birth at home or on the labour ward or at the birthing unit.
WHAAAAAT?! I know, I told you we were getting controversial.
So, let me explain what I mean. It’s impossible to know exactly how you are going to feel on the day your baby makes an appearance, you might feel on top of the world and in control, you might not. You might feel completely confident in your ability to birth your baby, you might have a little niggle that something isn’t quite right. You might be riding the waves of your surges like an avid surfer or you might be finding the intensity and power overwhelming. Until the day comes you just don’t know.
Now, I would say that there are a lot of people out there, who probably feel as though they will definitely fall into the category of not feeling in control, not having the confidence in their body and feeling overwhelmed by it all- especially if this is your first baby. So, the usual response to this is to just decide to go into hospital- because you ‘might need the drugs’, ‘you might not be able to do it’, ‘you might not cope’- after all, if you’ve never done it before, how do you KNOW that you will be able to do any of these things?
Well, you don’t. But equally, how do you know that you WON’T be able to do these things? How do you know that you won’t be that first-time mum that has a ‘quick and easy birth’? Because they do exist and it does happen. How do you know that it won’t happen to you?
Back to my original point now, if you plan to go into hospital and, on the day, you find yourself in the position where you are coping and you feel great just where you are, at home. It is difficult to make the decision to stay there and have the midwives come to you instead. So, you have to leave the place where you feel comfortable and safe and get into an uncomfortable car, sit and wait to be seen in the triage before finally making it to the birthing room, where you feel OK but not as comfortable as you did at home and you find yourself wondering- would it have been better at home?
Equally, on the other hand, if you plan a home birth- you tell all of your friends and family that’s what you’re planning and you get all the usual comments of- “you’re brave” or “is that safe?”, of course you tell them that it is indeed safe but now you’ve got a point to prove. If something happens on the day, they’ll be saying- “I told you it wasn’t a good idea”. There’s so much pressure! So, when the day comes around and you decide that hospital is going to be safer for you and your baby (perhaps because there’s meconium in your waters or perhaps it’s just because you have a feeling in your gut) you have that nagging feeling of a loss of pride and embarrassment when you tell your friends and family that you didn’t have a home birth after all.
Apologies, I realise I’m painting a rather grim picture of hospital and home birth, but stick with me- it’ll all make sense in a moment.
OK, what am I trying to say here. Quite simply I’m trying to say- keep ALL of your options open. If there’s even a little glimmer, a small part of you that lights up when you think of having your baby at home, then make sure it’s an OPTION on the day you give birth. Tell your midwife you’re THINKING of a home birth but you’re not sure how you’ll feel on the day. They can drop off anything they need to, to ensure that you’ve got all the bits and pieces beforehand and then when the day comes you see how you feel. If you have one surge and decide- nope I don’t like it one bit, I’m going straight to the hospital- that’s fine! Equally if you feel like you’re getting close to meeting your baby and you’re still breathing through each surge with ease then have the midwife come and check you over at home and then decide with her where to have your baby.
Simple, no need to plan, no need to open yourself up to the judgements of others, no need to put unrealistic expectations on yourself- just go with the flow! So, instead of writing “I want to give birth at home/ on the birthing unit/ on the labour ward”, merely write “I want to give birth where I feel is best on the day and that may be at home, on the birthing unit or on the labour ward”.
PS Just in case you’re thinking but what about all the THINGS you’d need for a home birth- grab a shower curtain (you can get them as cheap as 99p) and a couple of old towels, and have them to hand- the shower curtain will save your bed/ carpet/ sofa/ whatever you give birth on and the towels will be used if baby needs a bit of drying after the birth. Other than that, everything else you need will be packed in your hospital bag anyway.