Pregnant with my first baby in 2014, I discovered hypnobirthing. I was searching for something to help enable me to birth at home and avoid an epidural. I’d always been keen to have a homebirth for various reasons, but heard time and time again that I’d need the epidural once things got going – yet the idea of anything going in my spine was far worse than the idea of ‘pushing a watermelon out of my nostril’ as people would described it to me (FYI its NOTHING like that!! For a start your nostril is not designed with hundreds of tiny folds which are able to open up around a watermelon, neither does any part of it gradually soften and open at the top to facilitate this process…anyway, I digress.) so I knew I needed something, I just didn’t quite know what that thing was! I started to read about hypnobirthing classes locally but at the time I was unsure if they expense would be worth it, and as I was still working long hours & I would likely miss some of each of the classes for the 4 week duration, we decided against it.
At some point during my pregnancy I signed up to a pregnancy/mothering forum online, and I still remember the excitement at seeing a post asking for women to test out a new online hypnobirthing course. It could be accessed at any time, from anywhere, and because it was in its testing stage it was even free. The universe was looking after me and ensuring that this hypnobirthing stuff came into my life!
My pregnancy was fairly straightforward in terms of its progress, but I was labelled ‘high risk’ at my booking appointment due to my low BMI which meant I was given consultant appts and additional growth scans. I was able to use what I learned to help navigate the small hurdles along the way, and continued to plan a homebirth although I was advised against it around 20 weeks. By 32 weeks I had the homebirth ‘signed off’ by a consultant who was happy with baby’s growth and I began to think about my birth plan…
At the time I was 100% happy with it, I knew what kind of birth I was focussing on, and I ensured that all of those boxes were ticked when writing down what I was aiming for to help our midwives care for us on the day. It was quite detailed and very focussed on that one outcome.
Looking back as I approached my second labour, I couldn’t help but feel grateful that thing’s had (mostly) gone as planned, because I massively underprepared! Yes I was asked to transfer in as there was a staffing issue and we were able to navigate that with confidence, and yes I lost a reasonable amount of blood as I birthed my placenta – again negotiating remaining at home as I felt fine, didn’t need any treatment to stop the bleed, and didn’t really want to take my newborn into the hospital environment after a calm, empowering delivery in the comfort of our own home… but nothing happened which truly required me transferring in, or needing any intervention or surgery.
It struck me that especially now I knew more than before, that I hadn’t truly considered or planned for the very real possibility of needing to deviate from my plan. So if that had of happened, I would have been planless if that’s a word! I had no real idea how I would have ensured my transfer was as minimally disruptive to my labour as possible, or how I would have optimised a C-Section to suit myself if it was on the cards. I mean its likely I could have thought of some things to help on the day but it would have meant me engaging my neo-cortex (a real no-no for facilitating birth most comfortably) and conversing with my care team in detail which would have been far from ideal.
Part of the reason things went to plan first time around was of course my preparation, creating an optimal birthing environment for myself, having an engaged birth partner, remaining active etc, but I am not silly enough to ignore the fact that many things in labour are beyond anyone’s control, and that I had been gifted a good dose of luck and health too.
This time I wanted to make sure I had more eventualities covered, that I could hand over to Matt with confidence knowing we had discussed all the options, and that both he and our care team could refer to our written birth plan if needed. We had our Plan A, with even more detail than the first time around, but we also had a Plan B & C which covered transfer, care within the hospital environment, and my C-Section preferences. Of course I was hoping not to need them, but it was calming to know that if we did it was something we were clear about. That we had a plan, that Florence would be minimally disrupted, that Matt would know exactly how to support me in different circumstances.
So with knowledge comes change. My first birth plan wasn’t wrong, it was obviously exactly what I needed at that time, but with hindsight I saw room for improvement. Now as an antenatal teacher I urge all of my clients to consider what would be important to them if their plans deviate from their original hopes. Not because I want to scare them, or don’t have faith in them, but because ultimately labour is unpredictable and when something beyond your control happens, you need to be able to grasp the things you CAN control and feel good about the experience.
If you are looking for support with your birth prep, you’ve come to the right place! We have sessions available from as little as £10 right through to tailored private courses. Head to the courses page to find out more or book your space, or drop me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to supporting you on this exciting journey,