Birth, Resources

Writing Your Assertive Birth Plan

We often speak to women who don’t know where to start with their birth plan and have even been told more than once not to bother, but if you’re choosing to birth within the maternity system then we have a few tips for you!
 
Writing your birth plan isn’t just an opportunity to put clear instructions in writing for whoever attends your birth, but the process of writing it will bring up questions for you that you may not have considered before.
 
 
 
 
If you’re not sure where to start, or you have written your plan but want to make it solid, here are a few things that might help;
 

1. Plan for your ideal birth 

If you’re not planning for your ideal birth, then what are you planning for and why? If you start at the end, you can work your way back, figuring out along the way what will make your ideal birth more likely, and what might become a barrier. When you figure out those barriers, you’ll notice that most of them are within your control. By doing this, you will work out what your hard lines are and under what circumstances you might move to plan B (if you have one).
 
 

2. Remove the barriers at the earliest opportunity

 
Knowing what barriers might come up in pregnancy (especially around 36 weeks) and during labour is a really good starting point. If you are seeing a midwife and/or intend to have one at your birth, you can ask them what THEY would consider a reason to transfer to hospital. You can then look at that list and decide for yourself what your reasons would be. Growth scans, for example, are a big one towards the end of pregnancy so deciding for yourself how reliable you think they are, and whether that information is useful for you and would have a bearing on where you want to give birth – if it wouldn’t, then remove the barrier by declining the scan. Use the BRAIN acronym to decide what is working for you and what isn’t; BRAINsign
 
 

3. If you say no, you can always say yes later

 
Lots of women find that when it comes to vaginal examinations and monitoring, it’s much easier to say a firm no to all of it in your plan and at your appointments, knowing that if at any point you do change your mind the option is always still open to you. If you say yes to something you don’t feel comfortable with, you can’t undo that vaginal examination or doppler reading and it becomes much harder to then change your mind and find the strength to say no. It’s also always okay to take more time to think about something before you make a decision. The same goes for saying no to birthing in hospital, if you plan for a home birth then all of your options are still open to you, you can decide to go to hospital any time you like. It’s much harder, however, to decide last minute that you’re having a homebirth if you are inviting midwives to attend.
 
 

4. It’s good to be specific

 
If there were ever a time to be really clear about your needs, it’s during pregnancy. You might have really specific wants and needs – you’re not being fussy or awkward – express them! If it is important to you then it should be important to the people you are inviting into your birth space. For example, if you want a silent birth space, don’t say “please keep the noise to a minimum” because that isn’t actually stating what you need, and a midwife’s ‘minimum’ might be very different to yours. Phrases like “if possible”, “kept to a minimum” and “only if necessary” are incredibly open to interpretation, and makes it an almost pointless sentence because you’re then leaving it up to someone else to decide.
 
 

5. Write your plan for the worst midwife you’ve ever heard of

 
We hope that your interactions with midwives have been positive ones, but we also know that some do not respect birth as a bodily function that needs patience and privacy to go smoothly. Aim your birth plan at that midwife who is tired, twitchy and looking for any excuse to transfer you to the hospital. That way, if the midwife you’ve met a few times who is supportive and respectful turns up, she’ll totally get why you’ve written it that way. It’s a set of clear instructions on how you expect to be treated. You don’t need to ask permission (“please” and “if possible” are hinting at seeking permission) and you don’t need to be polite.
 
 
These are just a few ways you can write an effective, assertive birth plan. If you would like any support in writing or implementing your birth plan, or book in a holding space session to chat about your plans, please don’t hesitate to get in touch: hello@greatermanchesterdoulas.com
 
 
 
You can find our birth planning templates and examples here;
 
These assertiveness phrases may come in handy either in writing your birth plan, or implementing it if you come up against resistance; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxGBEwFAGho
 
 
If you are struggling with having your wishes heard and respected, AIMS has a really good helpline and have some template letters that might come in handy; https://www.aims.org.uk/campaigning/item/template-letters
A chalk rainbow
Doulas, News, Resources, Uncategorized

Slow Sunday Scroll ☀️

How is everyone doing? Lately we’ve seen so many people respond with how productive, or unproductive, they have been. But really, how are you? You are not the stuff you achieve – or don’t – you are a person, surviving an unprecedented period in history, and it’s okay to feel however you’re feeling, and to talk about it.

A chalk rainbow
A rainbow found on Lori’s walk

What – and how – we have be doing

Elle: I have developed a rigid daily structure, and have discovered life feels more manageable under lockdown. I’ve found a balance between all the aspects and roles of my life for the first time, and I suspect I will miss this when it’s over.

Lori: I have surrendered to not being able to balance it all! Developing new, creative ways to support women and single handedly mothering two high needs children are in themselves full time jobs. I’m trying to use this time to practise radical self care – resting when I need to rest, crying when I need to cry, reminding myself that whatever I am able to give to my children and my business is enough, and focusing on our basic needs. Oh and I’m loving working in such comfort! I never thought I’d be doing Zoom calls with clients in my pjs…

Take what you need poster by @lorithedoula

Amy: I have found it tricky to figure out working for Clara and Macy from home/at the studio in isolation (especially because we’re weirdly really busy right now!!), and for adapting how GMD is functioning, but it feels like it’s coming together now. I live alone so I’m finding the lockdown pretty difficult mentally, my anxiety is on a high and I’m definitely having more down days than usual – I’ve also realised that I really am a hug person and now I’m having hug withdrawal symptoms! A positive – the local wildlife seems to be thriving without humans everywhere! Something people should remember – don’t judge others, everyone’s necessities are different and people will be missing different things. Just be understanding!

Amy working in the studio for Clara and Macy

Collectively, we have been supporting the many pregnant women who have been directly affected by the pandemic. Our mission to defend women’s human rights, provide holistic support and accessible education, and to build sisterhood between women has never been more relevant, and we are extremely glad to be here to support women through this.

Our virtual support is available in private 1:1s (well, 3:1s!), and we are making videos on subjects suggested by women whose birth plans have been upended by the virus.
If there is a subject you’d like to see covered (or covered in more detail, please get in touch.

FiLiA asked us to make a podcast on what’s currently happening in maternity regarding women’s rights and options, and we were happy to oblige.

Quick fire questions

In World Doula Week we faced our fears, and finally started doing live videos! So far we have discovered what’s in our doula bags, what’s not in our doula bags, how to mentally prepare for birth, freebirth, and a live version of our quick fire questions!

What we need help with

We are currently writing to potential funders, and funders who have already contributed toward projects we are now unable to run, so many things are up in the air.

The best way to help us at the moment is to add us as your local cause with the Co-op, and to donate to our ko-fi fund if you are able. Every penny will go directly to supporting women in our community, and beyond.

What’s going on online for free?

Lori has made a GMD colouring book, and we are compiling a list of free resources, and if you have anything to add please message us.

Please don’t forget it’s okay to slow down during this time – it’s enough to “do” nowt and to survive.

The networks you’ve been relying on for support might be missing from your life temporarily, or you may be having to access them in an unfamiliar way, for example by Zoom. This might take some getting used to, but research shows all the same places of our brains light up when we talk to someone by video and in person.

We were all nervous about moving from face to face meets to video calls and it felt so weird at first! We got used to it surprisingly quickly though and it’s nice to be able to connect with others from the comfort of our homes. Whether you’re in your pjs, haven’t touched your hair, or are joining from your bed, you’re welcome! Just come as you are.

If you need some help with getting online, we are happy to help. Connecting to our sisters has never been so important!

We hope to see you online soon.

Elle, Amy & Lori x