You have it mapped out. Exactly how you want it to go. Your birth plan is specific, detailed, and could not be misconstrued. Except…it can and most likely, it will not follow the dots to a T.
There are a couple of reasons why this happens. Number one, and as I have previously written, birth is kind of a wild card. While preparation is critical, there are almost always road blocks and detours that might require an unexpected U-turn! And number two, there are policies, procedures, and practices that your docs adhere to, and that are dependent on factors out of your control, and that is what this blog is about. (I’ll return to the idea of why prep is important and how to choose a prep method that is realistic in another blog).
Because of procedure and your doc’s style, you’ll need to have the ability to confidently advocate for yourself. A common misconception is that your partner, your mother or your doula will be able to do this. Simply put, they cannot as your consent must unequivocally be from you. Honestly, this is a great thing because it allows you to change your mind but it also means that your team can support you better knowing there is no animosity.
With this said, there are certain steps you can take to communicate to the provider what you are thinking, feeling, fearing etc. during birth, and hopefully, this enables you to stay close to your birth wishes.
- Have a succinct list of things you want for your birth, with a backup plan too. Too long, and it is more difficult for you to remember! Give yourself room to change your mind, hence the B plan. Keep it visual so you don’t have to think too much about it.
- Start talking and asking questions when you first meet your doc. Don’t wait until the birthday. However, we often have an attending whom we have never met. So, make a point to introduce yourself and get theirs.
- Use mindfulness techniques that help you ask the “right” questions, i.e ones that are specific and direct. Know when you need an open-ended answer or a closed one.
- Practice saying “can you tell me more about this” and practice taking time to consider the information and how you feel so that you can request more support if needed.
- Cultivate a collaborative mindset so that you and your team talk with each other and not to each other. Many cases of unhappiness in birth come from a place of not being heard and of mistrust. If you can communicate effectively, you can advocate for your wishes in an organic and collaborative manner.
This list isn’t an easy step-by-step which is why prep and practice is important. Knowing the stages of labor or what happens is a cesarean birth is just the tip of the iceberg. Learning to navigate around that iceberg is where the skill lies, and that requires great communication, confident decision-making, and comfortable adaptability. Creating realistic, yet fulfilling birth wishes is a great first step. Our next blog will cover birth prep and what that actually means!