Birth experiences vary greatly from one individual to another, and even from one birth to another – just ask anyone who has had more than one child. If you ask anyone what their birth plan is, there is likely to be a fairly straight forward, limited number of scenarios described. Given that every birth is so different, and that things can happen that are outside of our control – how do we then psychologically prepare ourselves for birth?
There are a few things that are useful to keep in mind when thinking about the upcoming birth of your baby.
There is no one ‘right’ way to give birth. You will do what feels right for you at the time and it is only then when you are in that situation and experiencing the birth process, that you will know what that truly is. Antenatal classes can be very helpful to assist you to know and understand what your options are when giving birth (e.g. pain relief, birthing positions) and different ways that you may handle the stages of the birth process, but it is only when you are in the situation that you will really know what feels best, so be open to this and be prepared to ‘go with the flow’.
It is important to remember that things can happen during the birth process that might not be as we had planned, hoped for, or anticipated, and in most instances these are situations that are beyond our control. For example, the baby may arrive early, the baby may get into an awkward position, your blood pressure may rise or fall – these are just a few examples of the number of things that can happen to anyone, they are beyond our control and are no one’s fault.
If this does happen to you, try and keep an open mind. During the process of giving birth, be guided by your health professionals who are best placed to assess the situation at the time, and draw on their experience to manage the safe arrival of your baby.
Whilst you may be encouraged to have a birth plan which is important to discuss with your health professional in the lead up to your birth, remember that whilst this may be your ideal birth, things may happen that lead to a different intervention or outcome. Also, in instances where there may be more interventions required, the length of recovery time may be greater – physically and/or mentally.
No matter what happens, or how close or far your birth experience ends up being from your ideals or your birth plan – the focus is to safely deliver your baby (or babies) - and work with the health professionals to make this happen.
Be guided by your health professional. Focus on following their direction.