One of the most talked about (and sometimes least effective) things that women do in preparation for labour, is write an elaborate birth plan…
Decision making around how you will navigate your particular options for labour and birth is one of the most important aspects of planning for a VBAC. This planning and decision making is a fluid process that starts from the first appointment and continues all the way until the baby is born.
What a birth plan should not be
We believe in the saying 'what you resist persists'. It is well known that when we focus our energy on something it is more likely to occur. So, if a birth plan is primarily focused on describing what you do NOT want, you will have wasted precious time and energy, that would have been better invested in concentrating on what you DO want.
A birth plan should not be a long list of things you don't want or wish to avoid. Rather, it should be a summary of the conversations you have already had with your Health Care Provider about your preferences under their care. For example, instead of 'I don't want an epidural', write 'I would like to labour with minimal pain relief and have a preference for natural options, such as heat and massage.'
We recommend that your birth plan is discussed with your Health Care Provider well before labour day and a copy is left in your notes. This will enable any differences between what your Health Care Provider recommends and what you would prefer to be resolved before the birth. Having difficult conversations when you are in labour is stressful and disruptive to the flow of labour hormones.
Things to consider when writing a birth plan
Below is a list of the areas you might focus on when describing your preferences.
The birth plan is not only useful for communicating with your Health Care Provider, but also for those supporting you (partner, mum etc). You don't need to have a written birth plan if you are confident that your preferences have been clearly documented and everyone agrees on them. That is a birth plan in itself.
It is important to remember though, that the birth plan is a tool for setting an intention for how you choose to approach your labour and birth. Success should not be defined by whether you were able to follow the plan to the letter. It is OK for you to change your mind in labour and a good birth plan will give you a framework for decision making when new things come up.
The birth plan is an overview of all of your hopes and wishes for your labour and birth, including a description of your choices, how you would like to be communicated with, and how you will manage unexpected events on the day.