If you’re preparing for your upcoming childbirth, you may have heard it’s a good idea to put together a birth plan, or you may be in the process of writing one already.
I find many of my clients put together WONDERFUL birth plans. Most of my clients are extremely well informed about all of their birth options, and tend to understand that all decisions related to their pregnancy and birth are their choice.
Often I see perfectly reasonable and well-informed choices included in these birth plans. Some examples of preferences I’ve seen are:
- No or mother-limited cervical exams
- No induction for being post-dates
- No augmentation of the birth process for “slow progress”
- No continuous fetal monitoring
- Delayed cord clamping
- Expectant management of the third stage of birthing
- Mother-directed pushing (no guided pushing)
- Baby to be kept with mother skin-to-skin for as long as possible after the birth.
- No use of the word pain, implication that mother is suffering, or offering of pain medications
*If you are unsure of what any of them mean, I encourage you to click on the links above to explore further explanations of your options, or contact me for more details.
These are all very reasonable choices for a healthy mother having a healthy pregnancy, and the decision about each of them is up to you.
However, if you’re working on a detailed birth plan, don’t miss the #1 thing to consider before moving forward:
Are you building a birth plan designed to protect you from your care provider or chosen birth place?
If the answer leans towards “yes”…. toss the birth plan and reconsider where and with whom you will give birth. Immediately.
Because I am an active birth advocate in Vancouver’s birth community and am very outspoken about women’s rights in childbirth, I often have clients who are drawn to me because of their trust that I will advocate for them in the birthing room.
Now, sure, I WILL advocate for you. I will make sure that the medical staff attending your birth have copies of your birth plan, and will help remind them of your choices along the way. If it looks like things are taking a different route than you expected them to, I will do my best to help make sure you feel informed about what is going on. I will educate you prenatally on the way to communicate with care providers in a way that is more likely to have your decisions be respected. I will advocate for your right to take time to make decisions about giving your informed consent or informed refusal to any medical procedures suggested to you. And, I am pretty darn good at doing it in a way that is diplomatic and friendly towards your care providers.
HOWEVER – and this is a big “however”, I (in fact, any birth worker) cannot protect you from your own choices.
If you want your best chance of having the type of birth you want, don’t just hire a doula that is strong enough to help you advocate, surround yourself with only people who are supportive of your birth philosophy.
It is much easier to have the type of birth you want if you don’t have to battle for it. We are lucky here in Vancouver to have the option to choose from a variety of birthing options, from choosing to birth with an OB, a family doctor, a registered midwife, a traditional birth attendant, or unassisted. There are also many different doulas available. With all of these options, it should be possible to build a birth team that is aligned with your personal birth goals and philosophy.
I will support you in your birth choices, because I believe birth workers should trust women. But even more important is that women trust the people they allow into their birthing space. If you find yourself working on a birth plan that is designed to protect you from your care provider or birth place, your best bet is to reconsider those fundamental choices.
It’s never too late to reconsider if your chosen birth team and place are in alignment with your birthing goals.
If you want to know about your options about birth choices in Vancouver, feel free to contact me about setting up a quick consultation, no matter HOW far along you are in your pregnancy!
You may also want to read my previous article: Why it matters if your care provider likes doulas – whether or not you plan to hire one!