It feels so cliché to say, “the journey” these days – the words have been overused and applied to just about everything from meaningful life events to car commercials.
When it comes to your child’s birth, those words are just about right. Some of us travel a long road through fertility hurdles to achieve pregnancy, then there is the journey through the trimesters and different milestones of pregnancy, and finally, the act of birthing that leads you down to the new path of parenthood.
Our current class has just started working on their birth plans. When we teach that class, we give them a long list of options to consider, and talk about what they are and what their choices around those items might be.
Then we tell them to do their homework and that in actual labor, they will need to be flexible. At the end of the day, the birth plan is not a blueprint. It is an outline of the wishes you want for your birth if things stay healthy and low-risk from start to finish.
Our experience after the birth of our four children, and as instructors, has taught us that the real importance of writing a birth plan is the process: you and your partner sitting down to learn about your options in birth. Whether you are birthing at home, a birth center or a hospital, we always recommend Henci Goer’s Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth. She very clearly defines interventions, offers the pros and the cons, and shares the research to back up her position.
We encourage both parents to be involved. Coaches, this is not one of the details to leave to Mama. If she writes it alone, and you have no idea why she prioritized things the way she did, then how on earth can you make a decision about your child’s birth if and when she gets to a place where she will not or cannot speak up for herself anymore? It is vitally important for both parents to know the priorities in birth for those times when decisions need to be made and Mama needs a voice to advocate for her and for Sweet Pea.
Write your birth plan, and consider it as a work in progress. You will have a discussion (or two or three) with your care provider to get their input on what is realistic given your birth space and your care team. Once it’s representative of what you want and what your care team can provide, print several copies and keep at least one in the vehicles you drive. You can read in more detail about birth plans HERE.
Then do everything you can to control the things you can control about pregnancy and birth. I outlined them in yesterday’s post. In a nutshell, they are eat well, exercise, education about pregnancy, birth and normality in birth, avoid harmful substances, and practice relaxation every day. You will learn all about those things in a Bradley™ class. Realistically, The Bradley Method® is not for everyone. Whichever childbirth preparation method you use, seek training in all of those areas to keep your pregnancy as healthy and low-risk as possible.
You do everything right. You arrive at your Birth-Day. The unexpected happens and your birth includes several interventions, maybe even a cesarean birth. Did you just fail your Bradley™ or other childbirth class?
Your stellar nutrition built a strong, healthy baby. It has made you a stronger mama. As I heard in my Bradley Method® training from an obstetrician: the physical trauma of a cesarean is equivalent to a fatal car crash. The only reason cesareans are not fatal is because trained surgeons in a sterile operating theatre perform them, and all precautions are taken to deliver a healthy mom and a healthy baby out of the operating room.* Your good nutrition makes it possible to withstand and recover from the physical trauma: whether it’s flushing drugs out of your system and/or surgery. Your body and immune system are much better equipped than someone who paid no attention to nutrition in pregnancy.
Your exercise regimen will also improve your physical profile. This physical strength will also be an asset if you are recovering from interventions and/or the trauma of surgery.
Your education about natural childbirth will fill your toolbox with information to use as you labor. Your education about normalcy in birth will help you identify when things have started to change out of healthy and low risk, and give you the tools to make an informed consent decision after having a dialogue with your care provider. I am happy to say that very few, if any, of our students feel like their interventions happened “to” them. They agreed to interventions or surgery after exhausting all their tools, all their questions, and coming to the shared decision that their Sweet Pea’s birth story was meant to be that way for the best Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.
Your avoidance of harmful substances means that your baby is having the healthiest start possible. That is a gift you can celebrate no matter how they enter the world.
Your daily practice of relaxation is a great habit that will serve you well into parenthood. Finding stillness may help ease your remorse about the variations in your birth. They are great tools to use and fall asleep when your baby is sleeping: really, do it! Everything else can wait while you bond with your baby and catch some rest between marathon nursing sessions as they grow in their first month. As your children age and start to explore their boundaries, deep breathing and calmness are phenomenal tools to have at your disposal – trust me on that one!!
However your birth story goes, remember and treasure all the things that went well. These are the things that your birth plan cannot capture.
Remember that The Birth Plan is not set in stone. It is a piece of paper that outlines your wishes after your long journey through conception, pregnancy and labor. You cannot capture all the wishes, hopes and dreams on one side of 8.5x11 inches of paper. You can record what you want to happen as long as your labor and delivery stay healthy and low risk.
The rest of the journey is up to you. We hope it will be an empowered, deliberate journey to the Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby birth of your Sweet Pea.
*The risk of complications for pregnancy and surgery increases with each cesarean. If you had a cesarean, we encourage you to seek education about the possibility of a VBAC. ICAN is a great place to start.
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.