My lovely midwife smiles at me from across the room, waiting for an answer.
I imagine other moms answering with details of birth pools and soft lighting, hypnosis and reflexology.
My mind, however, is blank.
You see, there are two words in that particular sentence, which don't quite seem to fit together in my brain...
This concept is so far removed from the reality of my first birth experience, that I literally haven't even considered that there could be such a thing possible for me or this little bundle who will make his way earthside within the next month or so.
An ideal birth...I forced a smile but couldn't answer the question. (My poor midwife. I don't think I'm the easiest mama she's ever worked with...)
Once she left, I sat and thought about the question properly, yet even though I have given birth before, I felt ill-equipped to even start making a plan.
Planning, for me, has never come naturally. Just the word "plan" gives me a headache...far from secure and prepared, plans mostly leave me feeling trapped and under pressure. And when we throw the idea of childbirth into that fretful and anxious concoction...well, I'm left in a bit of a muddle.
Because there are so many things to think about. How do I know I've considered every option? What if I make a solid plan (like last time) and it all goes to hell (like last time)?
And although I've been sailing these seas of procrastination and indecision, I can't seem to quieten the ticking clock. Because this baby is coming. One way or another, he's got to leave my body...so I made the decision to get proactive.
I started to research but I found myself swamped, overwhelmed and confused...I sat with my pen poised above an empty page and found, to my horror, that words and ideas didn't magically pour onto the paper.
It didn't take me long to realise that the concept of A Birth Plan is often pitched at women who already have a positive mindset towards childbirth. In so many books and on so many websites, this idea seems to be aimed at women seeking empowerment, not simply survival. And because of that, most of the resources I stumbled upon felt very weighted and somehow...pushy. It was as if these sites were telling me that there is a correct way to birth a baby and that equally, that there is an incorrect way. Far from empowered, these suggested plans made my pregnancy nausea come back and hit me like a tidal wave. Not for me, I thought. Birth plans are for those with a different birthing history...
Until, that is, I found Earth Mama Angel Baby's birth plan resource. It's no secret that I'm a fan of this company - both their products and their ethics are to be applauded - so I dared to click...
I'll be honest, it was relief that washed over me. Far from being assumptive and biased, this resource reads like a check-list. It covers both the basics and the far-afield, leaving no option unturned. And therein lies the point - it presents options as options. It presents choice as choice; without shame, blame or a preconceived version of 'correct' versus 'incorrect' birthing.
Finally, something to work with!
I realise that it's still on me to actually tick the boxes laid out before me, but just having a comprehensive list of choices removes the sense that I might be 'missing' something and crucially, it's a great set of options to talk through with my midwife and consultant too.
Because birth doesn't always involve following hospital protocol word for word, letter by letter. Nor does it always happen in warm water, surrounded by essential oil infusions and with a doula present. Moreover, even the most solid plans can change and for me, deciding on a singular rigid birthing route feels shaky. Instead, I'll be using my plan as a guide; equipped with the knowledge that it's ok to deviate from it.
Because this journey, with its highs and lows and bumps in between, is a process. And being a process, it's ok to bend and flex and accommodate. Because with choices and support, there are sure to be numerous differing paths leading to the same destination.
So I'll be over here, clutching my comprehensive list of birth options and finally feeling ready to discuss and (dare I say it?) make a loose and ever-flowing, non-pressurised plan with my medical team.
And if there is one fact that I'm holding on to with both hands, it's that there is no wrong way to give birth; no plan is rigid - it is simply a guide.
So mamas, what does your ideal birth look like?
You can check out Earth Mama's free Birth Plan resource here...
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