Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A birth plan, third time around

Love it when the neighbours flowering tree overhangs my fence. :) #tablesareforflowers

After the birth of my first child, where nothing went to plan, I dismissed the wisdom of writing a 'birth plan' in the future. It seemed like a cruel promise of false hope in a situation where anything could happen. The natural birth, without intervention, that I had planned and dreamed about was not to be. No one even looked at my birth plan. Cohen was not fully engaged, his spine was on my spine, my labour stopped and started over 36 hours. After 24 hours I was too exhausted to refuse an epidural, which lead to further interventions, ending with a forceps delivery and a bruised and battered baby and Mama. Far from empowering and beautiful, my beautiful boys birth was traumatic, and in the aftermath I felt overcome by failure.

Before becoming a Mother I believed that the decisions that the Doctors and Midwives would make on my behalf would be what was best for me and the baby. But sometimes being short staffed, inexperienced, for the sake of convenience, or having different personal beliefs, means that what they thought was best for me or my baby, was not what I thought was best for me or my baby. I didn't have the confidence to ask why, to have decisions explained, to ask for other options. I'd always been told that as long as you left the hospital with a healthy baby, how you birthed it was not important. Oh, how wrong that sentiment is, and how women continue to suffer because of it. Of course the way you birth your baby is important. It can affect you for the rest of your life. It took me a long time to overcome the sense of failure, and to recognise that with the right support Cohen's birth could have been very different.

With my approaching second birth, I came to the conclusion that it would be wiser to go with the flow of the birth rather than outline a birth plan. When I was advised that Emerson's birth would be safer by elective cesarean, for reason of my Graves disease, her size and the third degree tear I'd suffered from the first birth, I thought any control or decision making had been taken out of my hands. And despite a satisfying and calm cesarean birth, I still question whether or not is was actually necessary.

How different things are this third time around. My Graves disease has not been an issue this pregnancy. My thyroid has been closely monitored and is behaving itself; following the predicted course (for once.) At my first antenatal appointment at the hospital I was reassured that neither the previous third degree tear, nor the cesarean, were any reason for me not to pursue and be supported in a VBAC (vaginal birth after a cesarean). I have entrusted a beautiful third year midwife student and Mother, Elissa, as part of my support team. She has accompanied me to my antenatal visits, interpreted Doctor jargon and answered my questions. And I have read and researched and come to realise the real importance of writing a birth plan.

This time my birth plan is more than just hoping for a natural birth without intervention. It's not about being in control. It's about expressing my informed, personal decisions about the choices that will need to be made during the birth, after the birth and during the hospital stay. It's a document that covers numerous outcomes, and the details that are important for me.

Without writing out my entire birth plan here, knowing every woman's would be so different depending on what is important to her, some of the things my birth plan includes - requesting that the lights be dimmed and the door shut during the labor and birth, expressing my wish not to have constant fetal monitoring so that I can have an active birth, asking not to be offered drugs, requesting cord clamping be delayed and making known that I would like to be the one to cut the cord (Dave having done the honors the last two times), advising that this baby will be exclusively breastfed and that formula should not be offered, informing the staff that baby will take it's first bath at home, expressing my wishes concerning a cesarean should it become absolutely necessary.

These are all the wonderful, small and important details that after two births, I know I don't want to leave up to strangers. This time I know things don't have to go exactly 'to plan.' There are several plans, where different paths may be taken depending on the circumstances. But in the aftermath I want to have felt that my wishes were respected, my decisions acknowledged and whatever the means of the birth, I want to be left without feelings of regret or failure, knowing I have done everything I could.

10 comments:

  1. I cannot imagine what you have been through Christina, but I sincerely hope that everything goes exactly as you wish and hope this time for you and for the baby. I know that it is good to be flexible in planning, but I am a great believer in planning as at least then you know what you are hoping for and where you are starting from. Take care. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Amy. Here's to plans coming to fruition. :)

      Delete
  2. Oh my! You have to request that the door be shut? Seriously?? Oh my again.
    One of the midwives at a pregnancy class (when I was pregnant with Joe, my first born) said to me that I had been quiet during the class & I didn't ask any questions at all... was I ok & what was my birth plan. I told her that my birth plan was to get to the hospital (that we had booked into) with my husband! She laughed & said that was the best plan she had heard! I was spoilt though, I went private hospital, with a great Obstetrician the first time & the nurses were fab. They didn't ask me if I wanted a pain killer, instead they asked my hubby if I did (he knew when I went beyond the coping stage). But geesh, I'm still in shock that you need to ask to have the door shut!

    Good luck with it all, I hope that all the plans go well. Will you guys be collecting the cord blood for storage?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't even remember now if the door was shut with Cohen's birth. I know people just came and went as they pleased. But often the door isn't shut. The lights certainly aren't dimmed. This time around I want to know the door is shut. I want only the necessary people there with me, without disturbances. Just positive support.

      Last time I donated the cord blood. This time I will be delaying the cord cutting so bubba gets the blood.

      Delete
  3. I am so glad that you have Elissa on your side this time! I really, really hope that you get your dream birth.
    I think that visualising your best birth is so important…you need to have a birthing goal.
    And like you said, if things start to deviate, then it is you and Dave who need to be in control of the decision making. You should be treated with respect and the decisions you make should be informed and involve what is best for you and for your baby!
    Best of luck!
    I am sure you will be amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Caitlin,

      I hope so! There are so many disappointing statistics surrounding birth. We've been doing it for so long, you'd think we would have gotten it right by now?!

      Delete
  4. What!? The door is open?? Geez. With all my health concerns I probably fall into the "if I ever got to take a healthy baby home I would be happy" category but maybe if I ever get pregnant I will be writing a birth plan just to request the door being closed and no glary lights.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, often the door is open and people come and go as they please. I think the staff become a bit numb to it all, they are so used to it. You've probably noticed that yourself in hospitals? But studies have shown that how you birth your baby affects how you bond with them and how likely you are to suffer post natal depression etc. So I think it really is important and women should be informed and make conscious decisions and not just do what is easiest for the staff!

      Delete
  5. wishing you a healthy happy baby and birthing process, naturally if possible :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nothing went to plan for my first born either. Despite having been well informed, having attended yoga throughout my pregnancy and having all the plans in place etc I had an emergency c section and a sick baby in special care unit. Second and third time round I didn't have a formal birth plan but I followed my heart and against my obs suggestion, I went on to have two wonderful vbacs. Both very different-one induced, one natural labour. I'm so happy I followed my heart but I would have done whatever was medically necessary had there been any complications. So much is in our hands but so much isn't as well. Every babys story is so unique and is simply that..their story. I really just wanted you to know that vbacs can and do happen and I hope you get the birth you are hoping for. It sounds like you are well informed and supported so fingers crossed. Sending much love and good vibes your way.

    ReplyDelete

I heart comments! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...