So right about now I am supposed to be working on my birth plan. For those of you not familiar with this piece of pregnancy-related homework (yes, in addition to leg cramps, heartburn and itching, there is also paperwork) the birth plan is what you give your midwife so she knows that you’d like a waterbirth rather than an elective c-section. It’s the flimsy bit of paper that says “should I get to choose how this plays out, this is how things will go”.
Which of course, is a complete fiction.
You could write a very detailed birth plan (my midwife said someone gave her one that was 4 pages long once – I can only imagine it included a snacks menu and preferred birthing hairstyle – anything longer than a page and you really need to employ an editor, guys) but that plan stands a very good chance of going out the window completely because of the simple fact that babies can’t read (it’s too dark in there) not to mention the fact that they are notoriously unreliable.
So really, the birth plan is more of a means to communicating with your midwife or LMC* what sort of birthing “stuff” you’re comfortable with as much as anything. Because let’s face it, if we could all write a birth plan for the kind of labour and childbirth we’d actually like to have - it would be pretty brief and would end with “...and after the completely successful experimental trial of the Utero-5000 automatic birthing transporter results in a clean, totally chilled out newborn arriving magically in my arms with no effort whatsoever on my part. George Clooney turns up to offer me a congratulatory glass of Veuve Cliquot and asks if I would fancy going out with him on Saturday night, which I have to refuse for obvious reasons and he is seen later in the hallway sobbing manfully into the lapel of his Armani Privé suit.”
Or maybe that’s just me.
But usually birth plans indicate the ideal location for birth, the preferred methods of pain relief to be administered, what sort of interventions the mother would be comfortable with, and who is allowed to be there. Those are all good things to know of course, but these scenarios, I’m sure you’ll agree, are all woefully short of Clooney and heavily concerned with “oh wow, this is going to be hard”.
So I’m sure you’ll understand why I’m procrastinating on this just a tiny bit.
But regardless of how close or far away from reality my birth plan might end up being, I guess there is a precedent for making one. I mean, how many times have you imagined how you were going to spend your Lotto winnings? And what are the chances that plan’s realistically going to be followed? Much less than a birth plan, I’d say.
So what would your ideal birth plan look like? Would it be four pages long? Would it include treats and technology that does not exist yet? If you’re a character in a soap opera does your birth plan pretty much consist of “get stuck in malfunctioning elevator during an earthquake etc.”?
*Lead Maternity Carer. Because what the world really needs is another three-letter acronym.