As we read about Duchess Kate's birth, you might be wondering what she wanted and if she was pleasant, calm and Zen-like or if the wild hormonal swings turned her into a dreaded Birthzilla.
My guess is that she kept calm and carried on! However if you're pregnant and don't have a royal entourage of doulas, assistants, nannies, the heir to the throne of the British Empire at your side, you may need to pull together a birth plan.
Fear Often Takes Over
When hormones are swinging wildly, no one can blame a mom whose fear of labor and delivery and the desire to have some control in an unpredictable, uncontrollable situation turns her into a "Birthzilla" with outright demands, a list of priorities and a determined vision for what she absolutely must have!
Yes, even Duchess Kate was probably a little scared. It's totally understandable to be both anxious and worried about what could happen during labor and at the same time want to retain as much control as possible. Relinquishing all control and being a doormat doesn't work and yet neither does being completely rigid. It takes too much energy to be a Birthzilla; energy you need as you deliver your baby and begin caring for them. There is a happy medium and more effective ways to communicate with your Midwife or OB about your vision for the birth of your baby.
If you're reading this, you probably have a progressive OB provider and are delivering in a progressive and up-to-date hospital. By progressive, I mean that they actually listen to you, they answer questions, and explain what you might experience during your pregnancy and in labor. However, if that's not the case, here's a list of the three worst things to do with a birth plan and what you might do instead to avoid becoming a Birthzilla.
Don't be a Birth Plan Birthzilla
Here's what not to do:
#1 Make The Birth Plan Impossible Read: Unless you have fantastically legible and easy to read handwriting, please don't hand write your birth plan. Also avoid the impulse to type it up as single spaced long list that takes two or more pages to describe your vision.
Instead, to help everyone be able to quickly get an idea of what's important to you, consider using a 5 x 7 index card or just a ½ sheet of paper with your top priorities formatted a LARGE FONT with double spacing and bullets. The idea is to help everyone be able to read it and remember what you want.
Here's What You Might Do Instead:
- Use a bold font if you're typing it
- Or, if you're using a large index card, use a wide dark marker
- Yes, all of your information is on your chart,
- Remember to include the following
- Your Name
- Partner's Name
- Your Baby's name if you've decided
- Your preferences for visitors: who and when?
- Your goals for how you'd like to manage pain and discomfort
- If you have any allergies (though it's on your chart and on your wrist band, it never hurts to keep everyone well informed)
- Whether you're planning to bank your baby's Cord Blood and/or Cord Tissue
- List your top 4 - 6 requests
- Make several copies
- 1 for your OB
- 2 for the L & D nurses
- 1 extra for you
#2 Plan with Military Precision: Including a detailed step-by-step list of what you want to have happen minute by minute under every possible set of circumstances, as if this were a wedding or This type of birth plan communicates very loud and clear that you're having concerns about being able to trust your OB provider.
Unless you have experience delivering babies, this type of birth plan can change the way your provider communicates with you and may set up an adversarial relationship that can ultimately make things much worse.
Hopefully you have one of the many warm and caring midwives or OB doctors who love their jobs, are great listeners and have helped you trust them and feel more comfortable with the care they're providing.
What to do instead:
If your instincts are causing you to question everything you're hearing and you don't trust your provider, this might not be the right situation for you. I'd encourage you to look for a provider who you are more comfortable with.
#3 Reject The Unexpected: Discarding the possibility that you may have to deal with something unexpected almost guarantees that you'll be in for a surprise or two, or three.
When flexibility goes out the window and moms expect a certain outcome, they are inevitably disappointed which can lead to feeling frustrated and cheated out of the "perfect birth." The truth is, as much as we wish we could control the birth process, our bodies are often infuriatingly unpredictable. Darn it! Why can't our uterus and cervix read the birth plan and get with the program?
Why is it that some moms dilate quickly, others slowly and still others not at all? I remember thinking how unfair it was that one of my friends had a little cough and her baby popped out, when I had to suffer through hours of labor. It's not fair and it's not predictable.
There's no way to predict exactly with 100 percent certainty what your experience will be like, and yes, even if you have a scheduled C-Section, it's important to be prepared for the unexpected. I'm not saying to let go of all of your vision for your birth, I'm advising that moms prepare for the unexpected so that you'll be much less likely to be surprised and shocked if all the best laid plans don't pan out.
What to do instead: Move Past the Ordinary
What is it that you really want to experience during your baby's birth if possible? Remember there's no right and wrong. Other birth plans may review all of the technical aspects of birth, I'd like you to move past the ordinary and think about the type of experiences that will create the environment that you're most comfortable with.
What's Your Vision?
- A doula, your mother or a friend with you
- Skin to skin contact immediately after the birth
- An epidural as soon as you walk in
- No mention of pain relief unless you ask for it
- To have a birthing ball or squatting bar offered early and often
- To be covered up and not feel as if you're on display
- Lots of light, no lights, dim lights
- Is the room quiet, or noisy
- No visitors, or the entire neighborhood
- Music and what type
- To bank the baby's cord blood and/or cord tissue
- To breastfeed immediately or wait until you've had a chance to deliver the placenta and get cleaned up
You get the idea. This is by no means a complete list. Think about what's important to you in addition to the options you can find anywhere on walking, pain relief, induction, episiotomy, C-sections, etc.