I don’t mean to complain (I do), but as my partner and I continue our journey towards introducing a new life into this big bad world, there’s just too much to arrange and too many decisions to be made. To make matters worse, each and every bloody last one of them puts my stomach through the floor and my heart in my mouth… or wherever it is said organs are meant to abscond to as the fight or flight response sets in. So, what do I have to feel anxious about now? Well… the birthing plan.. you read the title, right?
The birthing plan has created a fascinating quandary for my partner and I. On the one hand, it plays well with my intrinsic need to be overtly prepared, to be in control of every situation, and to be suitably educated. After all, is there any better way to keep stress at bay than heading it off at the pass and cutting off every point of access in may use to burrow into the mind? On the other hand, it provides ample opportunity to become swamped in the minutiae of every aspect of birth and, more importantly, the aspects that have any chance of going wrong.
Now, for those of you who do not know what a birthing plan is, it is an optional list with which to present your midwife upon arrival at the hospital, birthing centre, home, or any other mad place you may have chosen to give birth in. I say this with great confidence and assurance. It should however be noted that up until 6 months ago, I had no idea that planning was even an option when it came to the birth. Even less that such planning could require and even benefit from my participation. But, it is with said plan that your midwife should, in theory, be better informed to provide you with the type of birth you wish to have. Whether sitting up or lying down, in the bed or in a pool, drug free or blissfully flying upon a wave of euphoria and intravenously fed pain relief.
And why do we make this list? Well, we don’t, not all of us, anyway. As already mentioned, you don’t have to create this list at all. Yet, regardless of this, it is a topic that most baby books and first-time-parenting websites will insist on bringing up. Now, before I go any further, let me just say that I am pro the birthing plan. I see it as a safeguard, a backup, a potential communicator for when my entire body inevitably shuts down under the shock of screams from a newborn child. No doubt he will doing a better job at expressing his sheer discontent at the whole situation, than I could ever be capable of doing.
But, with that said, the birthing plan comes with the aforementioned caveat of being the perfect catalyst for anxiety. Want your birthing plan to include a request for a water birth? No problem there, right? Well, one problem. To come to that conclusion, you have to research the water birth and, let’s just say, reality can really stink. Why so? Well, I would have thought the most stable of fathers-to-be would start to baulk at the idea of being handed a little net to catch the inevitable mum poo… yeah, that’s a real thing! And as for the idea of me joining my much better-half in the birthing pool? Not likely, old boy. I may have social anxiety and the jaded disposition required to leave me bizarrely open to any potential solution, but somehow I don’t believe that experience will quite replicate the clichéd therapeutic joy of a swim with the dolphins. So, with the risk of sounding a bit old hat and certainly not very new age, that is a step too far.
Perhaps I should add THAT to the birthing plan.
But, before I fly off the handle at the growing list of cachet I am “supposed” to achieve as a father, let me get back to the birthing plan and approach it in the way any self-respecting anxiety sufferer analyses the situation ahead… pros and cons.
If you suffer anxiety, you are sure to be an avid supporter of a lovely, functional, well balanced list. It quite simply never fails. of course, it does fail, but now is a time for positivity, or self-delusion (depending on your POV). So, here we go…
- It’s good to be prepared.
- Should my brain collapse on me, the plan is always there as a backup reference.
- Better planning should calm mum and result in a more relaxed birthing environment, keeping that troublesome adrenaline down to a minimum… for both of us.
- It promotes an attitude of confidence and certainty, always better for ensuring that your midwife acts according to your hopes and ideals for the birth.
- Writing the plan gives you a real sense of everything you may experience during the pregnancy.
- Writing the birthing plan will potentially be a process of highlighting every potential anxiety bite on offer during the birth. A menu of future suffering, per-se.
- We may feel additionally upset should our ideal pregnancy not go according to our written plan. This is important, as if this upset occurs during the birth, it could heighten anxiety and adrenaline.
- Reality may soon make the entire list go out of the window, increasing my own anxiety and also passing this on to my partner. Again, when it is important to keep adrenaline levels low, anything which may increase my own anxiety is a potential danger.
- It has been said that the wrong type of midwife may react poorly to a birthing plan and consider it an inconvenience to the real practicalities of the birth. Soda law we get stuck with the midwife from hell…
So, can we come to any kind of conclusion about the value of the birthing plan? Well, not really. It has to be said that whether or not you create a birthing plan will probably come down to little more than instinct and personal choice. I wonder whether it really has any meaningful use at all once the panic sets in and qualified professionals are there to take over. Perhaps it simply serves to provide the OCD in the brains of those so inclined, with something to divulge in. For those who take life as it comes, perhaps the birthing plan is just a side dish to the real main course of the birth day.
Either way, I am a worrier. I am a planner. I anxiously dispute the minutiae of everything thought and every act. So, when it comes to the birthing plan, its potential benefits may not even come into play, but it will surely help to keep my anxious mind under wraps and, when it comes to being of any use to my partner, that is a must.