If you don’t prepare him, you’re better off without him! Here’s how:
Birth PLan Step 2: All birth partners need to know the vital tool E-BRAINS
Birth partners can make or break your labour and birth experience - choose wisely. If you could only choose one, would you rather have your own mother or the father of your baby attend the birth? Be honest...
Does the blood drain from your husband’s face at the mere mention of the words “vaginal birth”?
Don’t feel guilty if you’re secretly wishing your mother could be there instead of him - I did for a long time.
Initially, when I filled out the section of my birth plan that lists your birth partners, I put my mother as my first choice and tagged my husband as back-up. He was petrified about seeing too much and took every public opportunity to confirm out loud - for all to hear - that he sure as hell wouldn’t be “looking south” at any point during the birth.
I wasn’t sure I could trust him to not freak out at little... and if he did then how could he help keep me calm or do anything useful? I didn’t need to have to worry about him too.
Fast forward 9 months and he had to deliver our baby in our living room, catching her in his own hands. Luckily by then, Joe had attended (he wasn’t really given a choice actually) a hypnobirthing course with me and it completely changed him, his attitude towards labour and birth and most of all my confidence in him to be my rock and see me through till the end.
We both felt so empowered by the course that I changed by birth plan listing my husband as my primary birth partner for all situations and my mother as backup. She was supposed to be there on the day but Beatrix came early and my desperate mum was still in France, her Eurostar train ticket booked only for the next day.
She missed the birth by just a few hours and although I was sad for her because I know how much she wanted to be there, her absence didn’t throw me in the slightest - because I had Joe.
A life-changing tool (I’m not even exaggerating) Joe learned to use was the BRAINS method for handling difficult interactions with medical staff at the hospital and over the phone.
It’s an acronym that buys you time and helps you ascertain whether you are being pushed towards unnecessary procedures that could even be more harmful than beneficial to you and baby.
Of course all midwives, nurses and doctors have your best interest at heart but they are used to dealing with the worst case scenarios and so might act too fast preemptively on top of being too often pushed for time.
This helpful acronym buys you tie and allows you to ascertain if your medical team is pushing you towards unnecessary procedures like a transfer to hospital, induction or other premature intervention.
Start by asking if this: IS THIS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY? If it truly is then shouldn’t be much time to question it and action will be taken. However, if it isn’t then use your B.R.A.I.N.S like so:
B - What BENEFIT is there form the proposed course of action?
R - What are the RISKS of not following their proposal?
A - What ALTERNATIVE actions could be taken?
I - What is the INDICATION for this action? What do your primal INSTINCTS tell you?
N - What happens if I do NOTHING?
S- Don’t forget to SMILE. Challenging an opinion does not have to be aggressive and will not get you any favours. You want your team to be on your side working for you so remain on the same side. Your goals are the same but you are allowed to question everything politely and it won’t get their backs up.
By asking your healthcare professional these questions, it shows states that you are considering all possible courses of action in a methodological way. Getting the facts will clarify if there is a real need or urgency to comply. This will allow you give full consent free of any doubt and therefore free of unnecessary stress that will hormonally affect your labour and pain levels.
The minimum effect of this techniques is that It creates space and time to think things through so you no longer feel pressurised. In some cases however it can be life changing. It might change the entire course of your birth experience for the better by discrediting a proposal that is not actually needed and that could do more harm than good.
My cousin regrets being pressured into being induced, which led to a long and painful birth. It’s only with hindsight that she wishes she had such a tool at her fingertips. She didn’t feel that there was enough factual explanation. Being told “don’t you want what’s best for baby?” is NOT a respectable response to your questioning. If fact it’s patronising and contains do facts for reasoning.
Hospitals are notorious for contracting infections, and one that is often overlooked is “white coat syndrome”. Unless you or baby has a predetermined medical condition, you are NOT entering the labour ward as a PATIENT. You are a MOTHER and your role is to protect baby and yourself from unintended harm. Your birth partner is now armed with the right words to protect you and buffer these discussions so you can remain calm and focused on going into yourself. Remember that releasing your fears for an easier birth is at the heart of hypnobirthing practice so minimising new sources of stress is equally important.
Have a backup birth partner or two you can call at short notice in case your 1st choice can’t make it on the day. Ideally, someone who has read through your birth plan and feels confident supporting you in the way you want them to, especially if you're a hypnobirthing mum.
Follow those up E-BRAINS with “please give us some space to go over what you have said and we’ll let you know when she’s made her decision.' At risk of putting staff on the back foot for a split second, it’s worth it to maintain control of your situation because then whatever you decide, you are more likely to do so confidently and comfortably without being rushed and with no regrets.
Dads and birth partners, download this cheat sheet, stick it in with your birth plan and memorise it. On the big day ask the questions whenever you feel the need to.
This was STEP 2 of a comprehensive 10-part guide to writing a practical birth plan that you’ll actually use. You can read and watch the specific youtube videos for each sections and fill in your birth plan as you learn.
- Download the exact same template that I used here for free. It’s word document so you can type directly into it or print it out to make notes as you watch the videos. Here’s the overview:
- Where should I give birth? The pros and cons of home vs hospital vs midwife-led birth centre.
- Birth partners: What do they do and who do I want with me during birth and interventions?
- What equipment should I bring with me and what can I borrow from hospital and midwife-led birth centre?
- PAIN RELIEF: what are my options?
- Birth position, birth pools, labour activity and monitoring baby during labour.
- How do I deal with invasive interventions (episiotomy, forceps, ventouse etc…)?
- What’s so important about immediate skin to skin and the APGAR test?
- Cord clamping and cutting: when - who - how?
- Birthing the placenta (after-birth)
- Feeding a newborn baby and the first medical decisions you make for them.
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Disclaimer: This Birth Plan template and guide is based on publically available NHS information, the professional and personal experiences of Lynn JT, lead coach of Achieve The Birth You Want™. Every pregnancy needs to be monitored in person by professional medical staff who will provide personal medical advice specific to your pregnancy circumstances. A birth plan only displays preferences but by no means or form does it guarantee a specific labour and birth outcome. All birth plans should be reviewed and discussed fully with your professional birthing team.