What’s Your Birth Plan…… B?

Pregnancy Podcast – Why You Need a Backup Plan

The Podcast
Yep, it’s the Pregnancy Podcast again! And, why not?

Episodes of thirty minutes or less covering pretty much any subject you can think of on pregnancy, birth and the postpartum, evidence-based and laid out in an easy to follow way.

What’s not to love??!

The episode
I feel I should say that although you can prepare for and influence your birth, you can’t really plan it. The path you envision may well take some twists and turns along the way.

Whilst I usually use the term Birth Vision or maybe Birth Preferences, I will, for the sake of simplicity, stick with Birth Plan for this post.

I appreciate that Vanessa underlines that while researching your various options, their risks, benefits and alternatives will give you the best chance of having the birth experience that you want, it is important to keep in mind that birth is not totally within our control……..and that’s not something that we are always comfortable with.

So, prepare for the birth that you want but have a backup plan!

I love that Vanessa emphasises that labour and birth are intense, emotional experiences and that sometimes, in the middle of that, decisions need to be made.

If you have thought through a backup plan, or, even better, several backup plans, you won’t be caught out or forced to try and process tons of information and make complex choices during labour.

”You’re going to know what to expect and you’re going to understand what your options are”

The following quote from Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer, authors of A Good Birth, A Safe Birth, really sums it up for me –

 “If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.” 

Maybe read that a couple more times and really let it sink in.

So, what kind of things should you consider?

Whilst most people don’t want to think that their birth might become a Cesarean, it is important to have a general idea of what a Cesarean involves and to know about your options if one became necessary.

Some people find that having a Family-Centred Cesarean, or including vaginal seeding, can help make their Cesarean birth feel more like the experience they envisioned.

Changing venues
This is relevant if you are planning a home or birth centre birth. Whilst it is very rare to need to transfer to a hospital due to an emergency, sometimes birthing people do decide to switch to a hospital.

You might decide that an epidural will be helpful, maybe you are simply exhausted or perhaps your midwife sees something and recommends transferring.

Considering the following before going into labour could save you a lot of stress

– Which hospital would I transfer to?
– Who could come with me?
– What if I change my mind about interventions or pain relief? What are my options and what am I comfortable with?
– What if my partner has Covid 19 symptoms and cannot come with me?
– Who is my midwife’s backup?


Alleviate stress
Vanessa talks about how having a Plan A for her birth centre birth and a Plan B for a possible hospital birth allowed her to relax as she approached her guess date.

Even if you are planning to be in a hospital from the beginning, having a plan A, B and maybe even C, could be very helpful.

Maybe you plan on an unmedicated birth but at some point choose to have some form of pain relief. Knowing which options are available to you, what each involves as well as their risks and benefits, will ensure you don’t have to process all of that information in-between surges.

To wrap up
I love that Vanessa underlines that creating a birth plan is way more than just writing down all the things you do and do not want.

A birth plan is a culmination of researching your options, the evidence for and against various procedures, alternatives etc…

Research and prepare for the birth that you want but have a plan or two in place in case things go a little differently. Thinking through how your birth could change and how you would handle those changes will lessen the fear of the unknown.

That way, on the day, you can let go and just immerse yourself in your birth experience, however that looks.

I highly recommend Vanessa’s book, Your Birth Plan, to help you think through all of your options and narrow down what feels right for you.

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By emilywills

Emily Wills is a doula based in Stockholm. She believes that birth can be a beautiful and empowering experience and started this blog as a way of sharing some really great podcasts. She is also a mother of three and an enthusiastic runner.

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