If you’re pregnant and you’ve written your birth plan…destroy it. It’ll save you so much trouble in the throes of labour pains. If you haven’t written it yet, but you’re thinking about writing it…put the pen down and read Grazia instead (other trashy magazines are available). Trust me, Grazia will be far more useful in the throes of labour pains which just goes to show you how useless your birth plan is.
Well, it’s not completely useless. If I had to think of one positive thing to say about the birth plan it would be that the process of writing it makes you realise just how many ways there are (apparently) to give birth.
Water births, home births, good old-fashioned labour ward births, epidurals, caesarean, hypnobirthing, with drugs, without drugs, walking around, legs up in stirrups, birthing balls, forceps, ventouse…your list of options is literally endless and you can spend hours (like I did) researching and discussing all these options and, if you’re really obnoxious (like I was) you can even type up your final decision over four pages that you will lovingly place in a folder with your maternity notes.
In reality, of course, there is just one tried and tested way of giving birth: messily, painfully and in a world so far away from reality that in a pain-induced trance you’ll laugh at the very mention of a ‘plan’.
I had such high hopes for my birth – I planned it a little like I planned my wedding. I decided on the guest list (just my husband), I made a play list, I knew exactly what I didn’t want (epidural/labour ward/stirrups/drugs/forceps) and what I did want (birth centre/water birth/gas and air/mobility).
In reality I might as well have used my birth plan to write a shopping list on. Or to wipe up my vomit with. Or my poo. Yes. All that happened.
I went into labour two weeks early and my Tiny Terrorist was back to back meaning that, right from the start, nothing was going to plan. My birth will be detailed in another blog so I won’t go into the ins and outs (so to speak) but needless to say I went nowhere near any water, I had an epidural, I spent nearly twenty hours in stirrups and I had all the drugs going. My birth plan was only helpful in that I systematically went through it and did the exact opposite.
By all means, write your plan. Have an idea what you are getting yourself into but trust me when I tell you that having a baby is the most instinctive and primitive thing you will go through. You don’t do it; giving birth is something that happens to you. You are in control about as much as you would be if you suddenly started bleeding from every orifice while on a roller-coaster in a snow storm.
In the interest of openness and honesty I have included my birth plan below – feel free to ridicule, take the piss, call me obnoxious, anal, unbearable. Literally nothing, and I mean not one motherfunking thing, listed on this birth plan happened.