Birth Matters

How to write a VBAC Birth Plan

If you are looking for help in writing a birth plan, you have many resources available to you.  There are example plans in print and on line, there are interactive programs you can access at any number of websites and you can sit down with your Childbirth Educator or Doula and work one out.  I have a slightly different take on how to put together a birth plan…

First, consider resources. Or better yet, don't. Rather, imagine that you have all the money you could need, complete and unconditional support from every person you know and access to the caregiver of your first choice. In other words, you have no constraints on your physical or emotional resources as you plan your VBAC.

If this were true, what birth would you plan? You don't have to worry about cost - so where would you birth? At home? At a birth center? At hospital? In the warm tropical waters off of some deserted island, with dolphins? Seriously, where would be the perfect place for you to birth?  Remember, you can go anywhere you want, do anything you want.

You don't have to worry about what anyone thinks - everyone is completely supportive of anything you want. Your parents, your in-laws, your partner, your friends, the neighbor down the road; everyone is positively thrilled about your plans. What would your birth look like? Who would be there? A supportive OB? A wonderful midwife? Just your partner? Family and friends? No one but you? Who would be there and what would they be doing?  Do you want people with you?  Or do you want them in the other room, in case you want them? Is it quiet or is there music?  Maybe someone is rubbing your back or maybe holding a cool cloth scented with lavender up to your forehead.  What does it look and feel like?

Write it down.  As a narrative, if that's comfortable for you. Maybe as a simple list of things you will have. But write it down, the perfect dream birth, exactly as you would have it happen if you could have everything just the way you want. Even if you think you know some parts of it are impossible, write the whole thing down.

Now, realize you didn't just make this dream birth up. All you did was access the dream that was already living within you. Face the fact that in spite of what we "know" is possible or not, part of us dreams for things we might not even realize we want, things that we might not realize we missed until it's too late. What is the real cost of not dreaming, of not trying to meet our dreams when we are given the opportunity?  Planning your birth is an opportunity that only comes once.

Work backward from your dream birth. Sure, birthing in warm tropical waters with dolphins might not be realistic. But a tub of warm water in your living room is. Don't try to adapt what's culturally acceptable into something you can settle for (you may well end up settling for another cesarean that way). Which is more culturally acceptable, dolphins or elective repeat cesarean? Which one leads more easily to that birthing tub full of warm water?

Measure the cost of settling versus the cost of pursuing a dream against a lifetime of memories (or regrets), rather than against your credit card balance or what your mother-in-law might think. If you "had to", if it was "life and death", if somehow it was required that you make as much of your dream birth a reality as you can, what could you do? More than you think, I'll bet. Maybe you do have to; maybe it really is that important. Maybe it is only money. Maybe it really doesn't matter that much what other people think, even family.  Maybe it really is life and death.

You have this dream within you for a reason.  There is a reason this is your perfect birth. Find the reason and follow it until you understand why you dream what you do. You'll never regret it, of that I’m sure, no matter what birth you finally plan.

Revised June 16, 2006