The Birth ‘Plan’

Many of us, usually before our first baby (often well before!), have an idea of how we’d like our birth to go.  We have this ideal in our minds – whether that’s a natural birth with minimal intervention, or a birth with the help of epidural, or elective c-section.

The reality of birth is that it truly can’t be planned down to the nitty-gritty details. This is why I call a birth plan, a birth ‘wishlist’. It is the idea that, “all going well, this is how I’d like this to happen”.

Wishlists give the impression of a more flexible mindset. A wishlist implies it can be changed easily, whereas ‘plans’ tend to require more thought and input.

Also, and most importantly, the idea of the wishlist is that you are educating yourself about your options. Whether or not things go to ‘plan’, you have a knowledge and understanding of birth, interventions, and options that you may not have had before.

I like to start a birth plan with wishes for labour. This might include:

  • Am I giving birth vaginally or by c-section?
  • Where to I want to have my baby (i.e. Home, hospital, birthing centre)?
  • Who do I want present with me in the room (i.e. partner, parent, doula)?
  • Do I want that person/those people present at all times, or do I want them to leave at times (i.e. during examinations)?
  • Do I want internal examinations?
  • Do I want music playing? Do I want low lighting? Do I want quiet?
  • Do I want my partner/support person to take video/pictures?
  • Do I want the option to be able to drink water and eat food during labour?
  • Do I want to be able to move around freely in labour?
  • Do I want to use labouring aids like a ball or a rebozo?
  • Do I want pain management options available, and if so, which ones?
  • Are there any pain management options I really don’t want?
  • Do I want continuous or intermittent monitoring of baby? Do I want no or as little monitoring as possible?
  • Do I want to labour and/or birth in the water?
  • If I need to make a decision, would I prefer to be asked personally or would I prefer my partner/parent/doula/other support person to be asked?

This is only the beginning of the things you can include in your birth wishlist. Keep an eye out for my comprehensive Birth Wishlist Template (coming soon!). Sign up to my mailing list to be notified when it’s available!

I recommend that all members of your support team have a copy of your birth wishlist, as well as your doctor and midwife. If you are going through the public system, you may not know who your midwife will be; in this instance, keep a copy in your birthing bag to give to them when you arrive.

Why I offer FREE services

I’ve been asked why I offer my services for free for people who are 20 years old or younger.

It often comes up in doula conversations that offering free services devalues and minimises the role that doulas play in birth. And to a degree, I do agree with this notion; doulas DO play an important role for which, in most cases, they should be compensated.

However, the area I live in has a higher rate of teen pregnancy than the rest of the country.

Teenagers on the North-West Coast are getting pregnant at a much higher rate than the rest of the country.

Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that young women in Devonport had the highest birth rates on the NW Coast, at 23.5 per 1000 births in 2015.

West Coast teens were close behind at 20 per 1000 and young Burnie / Ulverstone women had a birth rate of 19.1.

The national average was 12.8, with Tasmania’s overall rate sitting at 15.4.

The Advocate (6 May 2018)

Many of these young women go without support, from the other parent of the child, their families, and their friends. They are isolated, often disadvantaged, and simply don’t have the means to pay for support services such as a doula.

In addition, as I have previously posted, the public education system doesn’t give young women the information they need for if and when they do find themselves pregnant. We’re told how babies are made, we’re told how to prevent pregnancy and STDs, but we’re not told what happens to our bodies when we do conceive.

There’s a huge breakdown in our system that leaves these young women stranded with very little knowledge, and few people for them to turn to who don’t have biases and judgement against their situation.

As a trained doula, and a mum myself, I understand what happens in pregnancy and birth. I understand the fear of the unknown.

This is why it is important to me to serve these young women. This is why I do it for free. I can’t sit back knowing that young women across the Coast are going without the support they need. It goes against my morals as a woman, a mother, and a human being.

Dads & Doulas

There seems to be this notion that as soon as a birthing person hires a doula, that their partner’s role in birth becomes redundant.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Doulas are educated professionals who give you and your family the tools you need to make your own informed decisions around your experience, and to provide you with the support to bring your ideal birth into reality.

We do not replace dads/partners! 

In fact, and I was having this conversation with a new client just yesterday, we would prefer to help your partner support you in your birth than to just do it ourselves. And this is why:

Oxytocin is the hormone produced when we look into the eyes of another person we are attracted to, with people we trust, when we have sex, and when we look at our babies.

Hopefully, your partner is someone who you love and who you trust. When active labour kicks in, the main hormone at work is oxytocin – the love hormone. And oxytocin levels must remain at a higher level in order for a more effective natural labour and birth.

So not only is it desirable for partners to be involved in the birth, it’s arguably a one of the more important elements of the birthing process. Not only is it fulfilling to a partner to be involved, see their baby being born, and be a support for the birthing person, it’s playing an important role on a chemical level in the birthing person’s body.

I personally love to see partners get involved in the birth of their baby. Touch, massage, eye contact: these all help with keeping oxytocin levels up and bonding with baby – and each other – for both parents.

Not only that, but often – even if I’ve known a client for a while, we may have met a few times before birth – I am still essentially a stranger to my client – they put trust into me, but they certainly don’t know me as well as they know their partner, and I can never expect to be a replacement (nor do I ever wish to be).

So please, dads and partners, do not be downtrodden or upset if your partner wants a doula at their birth, because doulas are there to guide you both. We can help you with ideas on how to assist the birthing person, provide you with assurance and confidence in your ability to do this together, and guide you on techniques to help you both through this incredible process.

VBAC: Myths vs Reality

It has become pretty standard for birthing people to believe that once you have had one caesarean section (herein referred to as ‘c-section’ for ease!) for the birth of your baby that there is no longer any other option for subsequent births but to have another c-section.

This idea has been perpetuated by obstetricians and other medical professionals, where they believe this to be the safest option for mother and baby. It’s my personal opinion that it is also because of the control that it gives medical professionals over the birthing situation – if you don’t allow space for what *could* go wrong, regardless of the chances of the possible ‘mishaps’, then you have full control and have a better idea of what will happen next.

Unfortunately, c-section isn’t always the safest option, and most second or subsequent babies can safely be born by VBAC.

more “VBAC: Myths vs Reality”

Understanding the Cascade of Intervention

Many things in life have unintended consequences; they may or may not have the effect that we want, and they may also have other unplanned and possibly unwanted effects.

Maternity interventions can have unintended effects, especially during labour and birth.

Often these effects are new problems that are ‘solved’ with further intervention, which may in turn create yet more problems. This chain of events has been labelled the “cascade of intervention”.

more “Understanding the Cascade of Intervention”