You cannot plan birth. You cannot always make a birth plan that works.
Childbirth is not predictable. It is not something than can be compartmentalised and ordered to your own control. You can express preferences and good intentions, but at the end of the day nobody knows how it will go. I know this only too well. And I am no natural organiser or planner. Ask anyone. My first birth was not a planned affair. I had wanted a water birth with no pain relief besides gas and air. What I got was an induction, an epidural and an emergency c section. Second time around, I had planned for an elective section and what I got was another emergency section- category 1 this time, under general anaesthetic and a world of pain. Third time around I planned for my elective section to be a healing birth and in some ways it was. But not quite.
And this time?
This time I’ve caught myself making plans, despite the fact I don’t do this very well. But they are loose. So loose they might fly away on the breath of a surgeon. The fate of this birth lies somewhere else entirely now. But here it is anyway.
And version two.
I want to be left alone to go into labour naturally; I am prepared for this to take up to 42 weeks. No sweeps, no induction, no examinations.
I will be taken in to hospital between 34-36 weeks to deliver my baby by planned section. Not elective, planned.
If my body does not labour naturally at 42 weeks, I will elect to have a section.
I would like my baby to be delivered and shown to me first, if possible.
If my body does labour naturally, I want to stay at home for as long as possible. Once at hospital, I will agree to monitoring, but I want to move around. I want to be able to eat if I feel like it and if the pool and the monitor which allows me to use the pool are both available, I would like to use them.
I would like to request delayed cord clamping if there is time and baby is not too poorly.
No epidural. No episiotomy. No unnecessary examinations. I would like to be left to labour, but I would like midwife support to be consistent, regular and supportive.
I would like to have the catheter removed within 8 hours so that I can shower and go to SCBU/ NICU to see my baby as soon as possible. I would like my husband to take a photo to show me in the meantime, but I would not like any other visitors to visit baby until I have been first.
I would like as few people in the room as possible and, if you can, please let me know who is about to come into the room before they come in.
I would like to bring my own hat for baby to wear in hospital. I also intend to breastfeed and I will express milk for this purpose.
Please give me enough time to push. My previous labours have progressed quickly, but pushing was difficult due to the epidurals. I do not intend to have an epidural this time, but I do not know how pushing will be for me. Please advise and support me, as this is the part I am most unsure of and most scared of.
Please talk to me and explain to me how my baby is doing. I would like to be informed 24/7.
Please talk to me and explain what is happening. If I need an emergency section, please tell me and please make sure that it is truly necessary. Please, if you can, don’t put me to sleep.
If I do get my VBAC, I would like baby to be delivered to me for skin to skin, and for the cord clamping to be delayed. I intend to breastfeed so would like to do this straight away.
I would like to be discharged as soon as I am well enough, so that I can see my other children at home, and so that I can spend as much time with baby as possible.
I would like an injection for the third stage.
I would like to be left alone with baby and husband as soon as possible after birth so that we can get to know our new family member.
I would like to be discharged as soon as possible, if we are both well, so that we can be home with our other children.
At the moment we just don’t know which plan will be followed as best as possible by the staff we are entrusting with the birth of our baby. It may indeed all change once more. There could be a version three, should the baby start to grow but remain breech! In the meantime, I am knitting. Making tiny, soft hats and dreaming of never needing to use them for the poppyseed.
At the moment, we don’t know which plan will be followed more closely.