Birth Plans (Choices, Preferences, Wish-List)
I can probably guess what you want out of your birth experience: a healthy mom and baby. Everyone wants that. But what “everyone” didn’t know to tell you is that you can have a healthy mom and baby and a good experience, too! In fact, the scientific facts prove that a natural, no intervention birth attended by a midwife (out of the hospital, even) is more likely to result in a healthy mom and baby than a typical doctor-attended hospital birth. So if you’ve ever thought about home birth or birth center birth, but dismissed it as being “unsafe”, you should be happy to learn that planned home birth attended by a midwife (as proven by dozens of studies) is at least as safe as a planned hospital birth for most women.
Another thing to realize is that a lot of what constitutes “standard of care” in obstetrics is based on tradition or fear rather than scientific data. “Standard of care” really just means “what most other obstetricians are doing”. You don’t have to take your doctor’s opinion as fact. Always remember that you hired your birth attendant–you’re the boss! Feel free to question what your doctor or midwife is telling you. If you find that you often disagree with your care provider, it’s a good idea to switch to a provider who is more in line with your preferences. Have the birth you want, rather than the birth others might expect you to have!
Far too often women experience an unsatisfying birth experience (or two) before they realize that they really do have choices in their childbirth experience. So I’m telling you, you have choices!
There are some absolutes (things you can’t change) when it comes to birth, but there are a surprising number of aspects over which you do have control and these aspects can have a profound impact on the absolutes and your resulting birth experience (not to mention the health and well-being of yourself and your baby).
A book that I recommend every pregnant woman read is Mother’s Intention by Kim Wildner. Her book is basically a self-help book for pregnant women to help them learn how to recognize what type of birth experience they truly want and the choices that are most likely to make that experience happen. Here are a few quotes from her book:
“If you want a comfortable, empowering, safe and joyous birth, but all your friends have to tell are horror stories, pain, and sick babies, don’t do what they did! Doing the same things over-and-over but expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity!” (Kim Wildner, Mother’s Intention, p. 82)
“To have your own best birth, you need to stop behaving in ways that interfere with what you want, and begin behaving in ways that bring the positive results you desire” (Kim Wildner, Mother’s Intention, p. 119).
We know the five standards of safe childbearing are:
- Good nutrition
- Skillful midwifery
- Natural childbirth
“What kind of commitment have you made to your baby’s safety based on this knowledge? Are your choices based on scientific knowledge or obstetric myths?” (Kim Wildner, Mother’s Intention, p. 118)
“Blindly accepting opinion as fact keeps the erroneous beliefs in play” (Kim Wildner, Mother’s Intention, p. 117).
“No matter what choices you make, they are yours to make. If you want every intervention, useful, dangerous or just plain nonsensical, go for it. Just know what the consequences of your actions are so you can own them when the inevitable happens. If somehow you cheat the statistics, great, thank your lucky stars. At least you will have made your decisions consciously and with purposeful intent” (Kim Wildner, Mother’s Intention, p. 64).
“Make no mistake, even choosing not to act in a bad situation is a choice” (Kim Wildner, Mother’s Intention, p. 109).