Every woman should write a birth plan, but for a VBAC mother it is even more important! This is because many women who are having a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) are now more educated and have identified that there may have been alternatives or different options they could have chosen instead of the interventions they experienced that led to a caesarean previously.
All hospitals have policies and procedures in place, for their protection, but also for what they believe is for the protection of the patient as well. It is important to recognise that these policies and procedures are NOT THE LAW. Your midwife should go through these policies with you, and tell you that you do not have to consent to them. Women have the right to take control and ownership of their birth and their body while also preventing unnecessary routine interventions. A birth plan will ensure that the “wants and needs” of the mother are at the forefront of her care rather than the “wants and needs” of her care providers.
The way a woman is treated and spoken to during her pregnancy, labour and birth can and does have a long-lasting effect on her future. Make sure your partner and your birth team are all working together to honour your preferences and make your birth the best that it can be, under any circumstances. If you don’t feel your care providers are supporting your birth plan, then you have a choice – change providers to a more supportive one.
A birth plan does not mean you can’t change your mind either.
But what it does is sets a platform for discussion, informed consent and trust. You must be provided with all the information you need to make an informed choice and that choice must be respected by everyone working with you. I have included a draft birth plan for you to use and amend to create your own individual birth plan. This is a guide only and you can add anything or take anything out to suit your own wants and needs.
Click on the dice to download the draft birth plan.
I also advise women to read and print out a copy of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Maternity Guidelines and attach it to your birth plan.
Prepare your birth plan and give one copy to the Obstetrician at your next appointment to go on file. Do this early – rather than towards the end of your pregnancy when there may be more challenges if you want to change care providers. I also suggest that you take several copies of your birth plan and the AMA guidelines and have those on hand in your birthing suite during your labour for anyone who hasn’t looked at your birth plan.
Here is some information and resources I have included on your rights as a childbearing woman in Australia with everything you need to support you and your choices. Take the time to have a read of the article, because it will give you the confidence to ask questions, decline recommendations and make informed choices.
Here is another article about birth plans that was co-written by Hannah Dahlen who is the Professor of Midwifery at the University of Western Sydney and Bashi Kumar who is a Human Rights Lawyer specialising Human Rights in Childbirth:
To put things into perspective though, I am a big advocate of “owning your choices” so be aware that you always have a choice, but you also must acknowledge that with choice comes responsibility and the acceptance of consequences. I always say “don’t go in expecting a fight” just be prepared and give yourself time if you need to negotiate your birth preferences.
Enjoy your pregnancy, love the life that you are nurturing inside, and give your baby the best opportunity for a positive, calm birth by doing your research, asking questions and verifying anything that you are told that doesn’t feel right for you.
Most importantly…you are not “trying for a VBAC” – you are “having a VBAC.”
Your body is a robot to your mind – if your mind is strong and confident then you can achieve anything. Read positive birth stories from other mothers who have also achieved a VBAC. Watch lots and lots of birth videos – it doesn’t matter if they are VBAC related or not – what you want to do is fill your head with the physiology of birth and your body. Watch that head coming out and the perineum stretching gently and slowly. Do a vision board with all the images and words that resonate with you for a great birth experience. Visualisation is such a powerful technique but so underutilised by women.
Get yourself to a childbirth class. Research shows that women who attended independent classes like Hypnobirthing Australia – basically halved the intervention rates for birth.
You can also do my Back to Basics Birthing Online Classes if it is too hard for you to get out to face to face classes, and then I work with you in the support group as well.
There’s so much you can do to prepare and your birth plan is just a starting point.
I’m not going to wish you luck – you don’t need luck – you need education, preparation and the power and determination of your mind and body.
You can only do what you are prepared to do!
My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a Childbirth Educator (Back to Basics Birthing), Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner, Certified VBAC Educator, Remedial Massage Therapist specialising in Pregnancy Massage, Birth & Postpartum Doula, Certified Placenta Encapsulator, Hypnotherapist, Aromatherapist, Reiki Practitioner and Life Coach. I am based in the northern suburbs of Perth and can be contacted by email by [email protected] or phone (08) 9303 9111.