Birth Plan? Don’t Bother

And that my friends, is a facial expression symbolising absolute relief!

And that my friends, is a facial expression symbolising absolute relief!

Some people have a hugely detailed birth plan which basically goes through their labour minute by minute. My birth plan largely focused on ‘get the baby out’. Whatever happened, I was focused on the fact I wanted to leave hospital with a healthy baby whether it came out upside down, through the ‘sun roof’ or doing a tap dance. My view is does it really matter? If no one died (I was going to type ‘or got hurt’ but realised that probably is an unrealistic birth plan!) then all’s good. I say that fairly flippantly, but in truth that’s what it comes down to. Did the baby come out of you? Are you now taking said baby home? Great!

Don’t get me wrong, there were a few things I would have liked in an absolutely ideal world. I thought about having a water birth and, all things being well, I probably would have asked about the possibility when I got to the hospital. All things weren’t well and I couldn’t have one. It didn’t really fuss me, although I did feel a slight sense of irony when I was put into the water birth room a few days later when I was transferred back on to the labour ward from post natal. I had to stare at the damn thing all day.

Other things would have been great, like not needing to be induced and delayed cord clamping (she needed oxygen so faced with two minutes attached to her cord or her being able to breath, the latter was definitely preferable), but really I had very little expectation about the birth other than the baby had to come out.

I find it frankly quite worrying when I hear of people writing huge, long, detailed plans because really the likelihood of it happening exactly that way is so slim. Out of the seven of us NCT moms who gave birth within two months of each other last year, I think one would possibly say her birth went pretty much how she would have liked (although I’m sure there are still things she would have changed if she had the choice). The rest of us ended up with an assortment of ailments, interventions and tales to tell which frankly wouldn’t be in any right-minded person’s birth plan (I’m not trying to put any first timers off birth, honestly it’s fantastic. Unicorns come and play harp music to you. It’s like a holiday really rather than a hospital stay).

I fear people who decide they are definitely having a drug-free birth or a particular type of pain relief (most of the options weren’t available to me cause of my platelet levels being so low) will end up being hugely disappointed and will this affect the birth because they’re so down about it? I would hate for anyone to get their hopes up about something only to have them crashed when it’s so vital for them to stay in a positive frame of mind to get through whatever the labour brings.

Conclusion of the tale: you’re going to get a baby. A soft, squishy, lovely baby you can take home and cuddle so tight their head might pop off (don’t do this). You’re about to embark on a really long journey which, although an important part, labour is only the tiniest proportion of. It’s like focusing on the fact you forgot to take a particular t-shirt you like on a year-long journey around the world. At the time (and often most of the way through pregnancy), labour is the sole focus and it seems like the biggest deal ever. But in a month, or a year, or ten years, it just won’t matter as much because what will matter is your baby, your family, the life you’ve had since that tiny newborn was placed on you for the first time.

Oh and don’t be a hero, no one hands out prizes for being tough. Take all the drugs on offer! (Seriously, best hour and a half of my labour was on pethidine. I remember nothing)

Harriet and Alexandra x

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