I thought it would be fun to document how I felt about birth plans right the way through from when I first got pregnant right up to what the plan I took into the hospital with me was. I imagined it might change slightly, but having started this post in early pregnancy and publishing it still only two thirds of the way through, I’m intrigued by how much my ideas have changed already!
While I knew the general ins and outs of giving birth, a few methods of pain relief and the fact that the baby had to come out one way or another, I wasn’t all that knowledgeable about the real process behind it. There are so many different opinions, schools of thought and even simply methods of giving birth that I just wasn’t aware of!
When I first got pregnant, all I said to Ben was: “I’ll do whatever the doctors tell me to get the baby out of me one way or another; they know best.” I was happy to consider anything, so long as me and the baby were safe and healthy at the end of it.
Since then, my thoughts have changed somewhat – not dramatically, I wouldn’t say, as in, still the main thing I care about is getting me and baby out of it safely and carefully, but I’ve learnt a lot.
For example, the doctors I thought would be getting the baby out of me may or may not be there – a lot of birth is now controlled by midwives, and they may be the only people in the room at the time of birth, with only a doctor brought in right at the end or if things aren’t going quite as expected.
In early pregnancy, I pictured giving birth as rushing to hospital, screaming, crying, shouting, begging someone to please make this end and let me go home. Yes, it may still be that, but I’ve since learned that people have far better births than you see portrayed in the media and that the “hippy” options maybe aren’t quite as hippy as they seem.
Mid-Pregnancy – Second Trimester
I was lucky during my first trimester as I was working with bloggers who had just given birth, meaning I was seeing a lot of birth stories on blogs – very real ones, all with very different stories. This introduced me to some concepts I hadn’t thought were realistic beforehand, such as giving birth at home, water births, and most significantly for us, hypnobirthing. I also spoke to my cousin’s girlfriend who had recently given birth with water and hypnobirthing who really strongly recommended it, so I started looking into it more.
By 20 weeks, I’d already booked us onto a local hypnobirthing course and read two books on giving birth, one focusing on hypnobirthing. Before I read these articles and books, I’d considered it as a strange word that sounded like it was something to do with being hypnotised during labour – I kind of wish they’d change the name!
I learned from these books that hypnobirthing is more about understanding the relationship between you, your body, your mind and your birth partner – how all these can come together to help you through birth. According to what I’ve read so far, hypnobirthing doesn’t mean pushing through to do everything “naturally” (whatever that means!) at whatever cost – it means understanding the physiology of birth, the psychology, and keeping calm where you can for a better experience. I’ve learned that hypnobirthing is compatible with all types of birthing, from medication free vaginal births right up to planned or emergency C sections. You can have pain relief; you can give birth in whatever position you prefer.
At this stage in pregnancy, having read a bit about hypnobirthing and understanding more about the process of birth, my plan has changed as follows. I’d like to:
- Labour at home as long as possible.
- Hopefully have the option to use the water baths at the hospital as a form of pain relief throughout labour and birth.
- Be open to other pain relief if needed – I’ll be happy to have an epidural if I feel I need one.
- No pethidine – this is my only strong “no”! I’ve heard of bad reactions to pethidine in the past, and considering that other painkillers tend to have a pretty strong (fairly negative) effect on me anyway, I don’t want to find out that pethidine is worse at the most crucial time!
- Use lighting, aromatherapy, water and music throughout labour and birth to create an environment I’m comfortable in.
- I’d prefer to give birth in water or in a position that isn’t laid on my back on the bed, however if this ends up being the best position, it won’t be the end of the world.
Hopefully you can tell, I want to remain very open, with medical intervention if needed, checks if needed etc. I still appreciate that midwives and doctors will most likely know best in the situation, but being an anxious person, I want to be able to control my environment if and where possible.
End of second trimester
Now here’s where it gets really interesting…and I’m actually going to end this post here because, having now done one hypnobirthing course, working through another, and read a lot more about the birth process, I have some much stronger thoughts than I previously did! Let me just say before I go though that I absolutely loved learning about hypnobirthing and please, please don’t write it off just based on the name and your preconceptions of it! As a testimonial, I’ve gone from feeling nervous to so excited about giving birth, and on top of that, Ben is excited about it too. As someone who was previously the most sceptical person I know about anything that sounds slightly alternative (he’s always made fun of my yoga addiction and didn’t understand meditation at all), he’s the biggest advocate of hypnobirthing right now. Just know that the name isn’t at all what it seems and it’s far more intuitive and logical.
So stay tuned to hear more on how my birth plan ideas have changed and will probably continue to change right up until the moment she lands in our arms.