How long did you spend planning your wedding?
How much time, effort, and energy did you put in to this task?
Did you turn up on the day and hope for the best? - Probably not.
If you’re like me you will have spent months trawling through magazines or Pinterest for inspiration, researching your options before making your choices about what dress you were going to wear, what hair style you wanted, what food you wanted at your wedding breakfast, what music you wanted to walk down the aisle to and have your first dance to, what venue you wanted to get married in, and which guests you wanted with you to celebrate this wonderful occasion. The list goes on...
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently and I cannot understand why we don’t do this level of planning for birth.
When you think about it giving birth is probably the most significant event that will ever happen in your life. It might only happen once or twice, maybe more if you want a larger family. But we spend very little time planning for this vastly significant occasion, compared to a wedding.
So why don’t we do this for birth? I think there are two reasons:
1. We think there is no point because birth is unpredictable.
We may have been told this by friends, family, midwives or even seen it on tv.
We constantly receive the message ‘you don’t know what’s going to happen, you can’t
plan it, so don’t even try’. So, we think to ourselves, I’ll just ‘go with the flow’, and see
what happens on the day.
2. We avoid thinking about birth at all because we are afraid of it.
This is a ‘bury your head in the sand’ approach. I remember feeling the same way in my
first pregnancy. The complete overwhelm of the seemingly impossible task ahead
prevented me from thinking about it. It just felt too ‘big’. How can you plan for
something like this? 'I just won’t think about it until it comes to it, that’s how I usually
cope with things that I’m worried about'.
But I urge you to make a plan, be prepared, have a plan A, and a plan B, and C.
Call it thinking about your ‘birth preferences’ rather than ‘birth planning’ if you want to.
And when you think about it, the things you might plan for a wedding are very similar to the things you might plan for birth...
Venue – Check. Where do you want to give birth? This could be at home, hospital, or a birth centre.
Environment – Check. What kind of setting do you want? What type of lighting might you like? what do you want it to smell like (lovely lavender for example)? Do you want to be in water, to labour in or birth in?
Music – Check. What do you want to listen to? Calm spa music? Happy music? Hypnobirthing affirmations or relaxation MP3’s?
Food and Drink – Check. What do you want to eat and drink to keep your energy up but that also makes you feel good?
Guest list – Check. Who do you want with you at the birth of your baby? Your partner, mum, sister, friend, doula? How many midwives are you happy to attend you? Are you willing for student midwives to be present? Or maybe you might consider a private midwife?
All of the things I've listed above affect your birth. The environment we are in, who is present, what we can hear, see, taste and smell have an effect on how we feel in labour.
We know that when we feel calm, safe and comfortable, birth is better. It’s a fact. We produce a hormone called oxytocin when we feel safe and relaxed. This hormone is essential for birth because it’s responsible for the stimulation of the uterus muscles (i.e. contractions or ‘surges’).
It’s the difference between a short, efficient and comfortable birth, and a long, painful and complicated one.
We can’t give birth without oxytocin. And there are things that we can plan for in our labour and birth that can make it easier to produce! - Win!
So, get birth planning. Plan it like you would plan a wedding.
Yes, birth is sometimes unpredictable. Yes, it might not go to your original plan.
But also - it might! It might go exactly as you planned; you might get the most amazing birth ever. So, what have you got to lose?
All the loves,