Transcript: Preparing For Childbirth – Creating a Birth Plan

This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called Preparing For Childbirth – Creating a Birth Plan and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.

Helen Thompson: When it comes to planning for childbirth, many of the moms that contact me are well organized when it comes to their medical needs. However, what I’ve noticed is that often a lot of simple planning gets missed, resulting in stress, worry and overwhelm once baby has arrived. This week’s guest, Amanda Gorman is a mother of two and is a certified bursting from within childbirth educator.

Amanda is passionate about helping mums prepare for childbirth and postpartum and offers loads of resources to help ease the load. Amanda has also been assisting moms for more than two years via her Finding Your Village podcast and I’ve included a link to this in the episode show notes.

Hi, Amanda and welcome to First Time Mum’s Chat. It’s great to have you here, and I’m very much looking forward to chatting with you today.

Amanda Gorman: Thank you very much for having me. I am so happy to be here talking with you. And yes, my podcast, I started two years ago in February of 2020. It’s called Finding Your Village and in that podcast, I focus all about birth, postpartum and parent mental health. And you were a guest on my podcast, which was lovely to have you on there. And in the podcast I talk about not only my own experiences as a first time mum and a second time mum and all of those elements of birth, postpartum and just my own mental health with balancing everything.

But I also bring in experts, or people that have experiences, life experiences in any of those areas that want to tell a story or share information with parents, because the idea of Finding Your Village, it comes from the old African proverb, it takes a village to raise a child.

And nowadays, especially in the days of COVID we don’t have necessarily that village around us of friends and family that can come over and physically be with us. And so we can find our own villages in the form of friends and family, either nearby or far away that we can connect with virtually and we can also add to our village podcasts, books, experts who teach baby massage courses like you do, and, childbirth educators that can teach you from across the globe. So that’s really the idea behind Finding Your Village.

Helen Thompson: That’s good to hear. My podcast, as you know, it’s sort of coming from the same principle that I like to interview experts, who can give value to first time mums who may not understand or may not have that knowledge to help them. So it’s good that we’re both on the same page there. I just wanted to mention something you just said, you said you were a first time mum and a second time mum. I believe that a first time mum is a first time mum to every child because every child is different.

Amanda Gorman: Yeah, I like that perspective. It’s so true. Every single child is different and not only that, but every single time that your family grows by a new family member, the dynamics change and your family is kind of a new family in a way because of this change. And so I think that’s a great point to bring up is that, just because you’ve had a baby already doesn’t mean that it’s all gonna be the same or that it’s going to be easy by any standard. I actually experienced the opposite. I found it easier to have one child and more difficult when I brought a second child into my family and that was unexpected. That was something I was not anticipating.

Yeah, so I actually have a couple different toolkits that I like to think about in the early days of parenting. So there is a pain coping toolkit for when you’re pregnant and you’re going into preparing for childbirth. And it doesn’t matter how many kids you have. If you’re a first time mum, or if it’s your eighth child, childbirth is a lot of hard work.

It can be intense. Some people find it painful but however you look at it, it helps to have a toolkit of tools, of coping mechanisms to get through moments that are painful or intense or uncomfortable, or just kind of take you by surprise. And so in my childbirth class that I teach, I talk about this pain coping toolkit and some of those breathing exercises and those strategies I find that parents, including myself can utilize those tools in other areas of parenting as well. So, it’s not just during the pain of childbirth, but if you are just really having a hard time with your child, or you’re just kind of flooded with emotions, or if you’re just recovering from birth even, and having a hard time those coping mechanisms can be helpful for that too. And then I also have recently launched a postpartum online course with a new venture that I’ve started with my business partner and in the postpartum course, we have a couple of different sets of toolkits depending on where parents are in their postpartum journey.

And so we’ve put together an administrative tool kit for parents that are about to give birth or just gave birth and things to do ahead of time or do soon after baby’s born that not a lot of people talk about, cause it’s not super fun or glamorous. And so it’s things like finding a pediatrician, it’s getting your insurance sorted out.

So one thing that I wish someone would have told me about before I had kids was that in the United States anyways, baby is covered by mom’s insurance for 30 days. And to me, I didn’t know that and that 30 days went by really fast. And then I realized, oh my baby, I need to get them set up with insurance.

And it was just an annoying, administrative task that I didn’t really want to be bothered with when I was in this cocoon of healing and bonding with my baby, you know? And so we’ve put together an administrative toolkit for that for parents so that they can know okay here’s how you dot all the I’s cross all the T’s. And then when you have your baby, you don’t have to worry about this stuff, it’s just kind of done, or you can just go through the checklist. And then the last toolkit that I’ll talk about today is really the first one that I started with, and that is the wellness toolkit for parents. And so I call it wellness because it is for mental health. It also can be for your physical health. And really the idea is what can you do in preparation for baby’s arrival to ensure the most smooth transition possible. And so the toolkit kind of includes a couple of different exercises and then a checklist.

So a checklist of who are resources that you can add to your parenting village. So think about family and friends. Think about ones that are nearby and far away that can help with things but if you want to breastfeed and you run into lactation issues, go ahead and already have a name and number or email address of the lactation consultant already written down this.

A pelvic floor physiotherapist, think about that. A mental health therapist, just go ahead and already have those things listed out and even maybe ask for recommendations or, find one, or if you already have one that you use, go ahead and list their information so that you and your partner or family, know who that is.

And then there’s the stuff that people often do hear about. Make freezer meals, make meals to put in your freezer or find a meal prep kit delivery service that will deliver pre-made meals. Already have that picked out. And the other part of this wellness toolkit is an exercise. So I have parents go through the exercise of creating kind of a cheat sheet for themselves of who are the people nearby that you would want to come over to either meet your baby, bring you a meal, help you fold your laundry, do dishes, put dishes away. Think about what your requirements are.

If you’re going to have people in your house, just think about it so that it’s not an emotional discussion. If you have a requirement for vaccines, for masks, whatever it is, you just list it out. It’s not emotional, it’s just, here’s what it is. If this doesn’t work for you, we would love to get a gift card to, a Uber eats or someone to bring us food from our favorite restaurant.

Also part of creating this cheat sheet is thinking about who are people that are emotional support allies. If you live in Australia and you have a friend that lives in the states, they could be on that list. And you would just write down the time zone to remind you that they’re available, but you can phone a friend. That’s kind of what I call it, is your phone, a friends list. Who are the people there either nearby or far away that can hold that emotional space for you? That will just listen to you vent. And they’re not going to try to solve your problem. They’re not going to try to invalidate your feeling of, well, it’s not that bad or, at least your baby’s healthy or anything like that, they’ll just…

Helen Thompson: Listen and support you.

Amanda Gorman: Exactly and it’s important to make two different lists because there are some friends or parents or mother-in-laws that are great at folding laundry and holding a baby while you take a shower, but are just not great with the emotional stuff. And that’s totally fine, but it’s an opportunity for you to think about who those people are and then you write them down and stick it in a drawer that you know where it is or put it on your fridge. Wherever you’re comfortable with it. So that in those moments, when you are sleep deprived, when you are on a hormonal rollercoaster, you can just easily look at the list and reference who those people are. Another activity, the last activity that I’ll talk about today that I have parents go through is creating a, a joy sheet.

So again, when you have a newborn and if you were to get 10 minutes to yourself. If your partner or your mom said, okay, hey, you go, just take a little break, go take a 10 minute break. I’ll hold, baby. You go do something for 10 minutes. In that moment, you might think oh, gosh, well, what am I going to do for 10 minutes? And you might waste a minute or two thinking about it. And so instead you could just have this list that you’ve already written down of like, oh yeah, there’s the book that I’m in the middle of reading. It’s in my nightstand. I’m just going to go read that book or scrolling through Instagram or, looking for something on an online website that you’ve been meaning to buy.

It’s really whatever you like to do for 10 minutes, that fills you up while you have some alone time. It doesn’t have to be some big grand thing. It could be something very, very simple. And I actually have parents think about if I had 10 minutes to myself, these are the things I like to do. If I had 30 minutes to myself, these are the shows I would watch, or I would go on a walk around where I live. And then if I had two hours or more all by myself, right. Would I go to Target and just aimlessly walk around? That was on my list. Whatever, whatever your thing is, and I have both parents do this, if you’re in a partnership because it’s going to be different for each one of you. And even if you’re not the person who gave birth, you are going through a hormonal change. You’re going through sleep deprivation, your experience, and your transition is very important as well. And so I have both parents write down their own list and then keep it in the safe place.

Helen Thompson: I think that’s a very good thing to do before you’ve even had your baby. Because as you say, you might be going through a hormone roller coaster, or you might be sleep deprived and you won’t be thinking about that. You’ll be panicking, you’ll be getting stressed, you’re getting overwhelmed, you’re getting frustrated. And if you have that toolkit, I think that’s a great thing to have. I was also going to bring up what you said about mental health. I had a chat to somebody recently about mental health and COVID and how it’s affected all of us.

When you’re pregnant and you’ve had to stay in the house 24/7 and not be able to get out and not be able to communicate. You’re not able to have that time to communicate with your baby or do massage or whatever it is, let alone communicating to yourself and just saying, no, I need this space. So if you’ve got that toolkit before you have a baby, it’s probably an activity that you can do to build your mental health as well.

Amanda Gorman: Yeah and I can also imagine that it might spark some ideas for other lists or a different type of toolkit that parents can come up with on their own. But the idea is, what’s one small thing I could do for myself today to make it easier on myself tomorrow or, in the future?

Helen Thompson: So your background is postpartum doula not midwife?

Amanda Gorman: So I am a childbirth educator and so my focus is really on preparation for birth and for postpartum. And so that’s something to me that I have either personally experienced or had friends or clients that I’ve talked to about that said, I wish someone would have talked more about postpartum. I wish someone would have prepared me more about postpartum. So that’s why I put such an emphasis on that right now.

And that’s why I have created this postpartum course. Particularly. I have heard, I wish someone would have told me more about what I would go through. I took a newborn care class, I learned how to change diapers or change nappies, I learned the options for feeding. I knew what warning signs to look for in my baby and when to call the pediatrician. But I didn’t know that I was going to bleed for four or five weeks after having a baby.

Helen Thompson: You don’t get told that kind of stuff, do you? They don’t tell you that.

Amanda Gorman: That’s the stuff that I heard over and over and over. I wish I would’ve known. I wish someone would’ve told me about after birth contractions. That caught me off guard in that it was a really difficult moment when I thought I would just be blissed out with my newborn and I’m still dealing with physical pain.

I wish someone would’ve given me a heads up. And so that’s top of mind for me right now. I love childbirth preparation, I love talking about newborns and what to expect and how to take care of them as well. But this is a need that I have identified in so many people’s stories so that I’m like, okay, we need to address that need.

Helen Thompson: Yeah and it’s good to have somebody like you, who can do that because you go to all these classes before you’ve had a baby, or even after you’ve had a baby. And as you say, they teach you all these things, you fold the nappy up this way, you put it in a kite shape, you lift up your baby’s legs and put it underneath and that’s really all they tell you. And it’s something that I’ve learnt a lot about postpartum care by talking to people like you. And it’s something that I wish I’d known before so that I could support my first time mums a lot better.

I love your simplicity of how you’ve put it all together for those moms, because that’s what they need. They need something that’s simple and easy to understand.

Amanda Gorman: Yeah, I totally agree and thank you, I really appreciate that. And that is absolutely my mission, is just to make it accessible, something easy to understand, something easy to remember. And just in general, my feeling about parenting, especially at the early days of parenting and going into birth and preparing to bring home your baby. There are so many different divided sides on so many different topics when it comes to parenting. You know getting an epidural versus having an unmedicated childbirth. Some people even call it a natural childbirth, which I think all birth is natural. But you know, breastfeeding versus formula feeding, cloth diapers versus disposable diapers. There’s just so many different camps on so many different topics that I think can be very overwhelming, divisive, even, stressful for especially first time mums to think about those things of like, I don’t want to be judged by the other side, if I make this decision, I want to make the right decision…

Helen Thompson: For me and my family.

Amanda Gorman: Yes. And that is what I always emphasize. And so that’s another thing that’s important to me. Let’s talk about what’s important for baby and the parent. We’re not forgetting about the parent because the baby is only going to do as well as the parent is doing. And let’s also leave all the gray area available. Nothing is black or white. It’s nuance. It’s like, I’m sleeping with baby right next to you or in a bassinet, versus baby in another room and sleep training and no one thing is good for baby or bad for baby or good for mom or bad for mom.

It’s all a gray area. It’s a spectrum. And where on that spectrum are you comfortable? Is your baby comfortable? And what works for your family? And those things may change over time.

Helen Thompson: Yes, of course. And each baby as we said at the beginning is different. And I think with the baby massage side, as well as what you’ve just said it’s building up that confidence. It’s building up that confidence for the parent and for the dad. I don’t want to forget dads as well because dads are just as important as moms. Whether it’s baby massage, whether it’s your toolkit, it’s building up that confidence. It’s building up that support mechanism for babies and for parents that they can learn each other’s cues and learn how to communicate with each other and I think that also brings in the mental health side as well, because we all need to have those tools that we know that we can use and we can just think, right, okay well, I’m going to look at Amanda’s toolkit here, I’ve done my checklist, this is what I’m going to do, or I’m going to look at what Helen said about baby massage.

I think I’m going to check in with my baby and see whether it wants a massage because I want some oxytocin and I want some serotonin. And it’s a matter of working together as a family.

So, is there any other topic that we’ve spoken about that you’d like to add to?

Amanda Gorman: Really just reiterating that there is no one way to welcome your baby into the world or to connect with your baby and that parent mental health is so, so important and validating your feelings, whatever they are, is so important and you deserve to be validated in your feelings. And if you feel any kind of guilt for, I don’t really want to do this right now, I don’t want to be around crying babies.

That’s totally the word, accept that feeling, accept that emotion, that experience. And it probably will not last forever. Emotions, fun fact, last for 60 to 90 seconds. So just let yourself feel that and it will probably dissipate within a minute and a half. And then you may go on to the next feeling of I love my baby so much, I am so honored and thankful to be a mom or to be a dad. Of course you want the best for them and you want them to be cared for and safe and whatever you’re experiencing, even if it’s negative emotions, totally valid. Totally okay.

Helen Thompson: And it’s the same with the baby side as well. It’s accepting both. It’s accepting the baby, it’s accepting your partner and I guess it’s also accepting that troublesome mother in-law that’s maybe wanting to do the right thing, but yet she’s not being particularly supportive because she’s telling you what to do.

Oh, I did this or I did that. It’s just a matter of saying to that lovely mother-in-law look, I appreciate where you’re coming from. I appreciate you want to support me, but right now, I just need to be with my baby, or I just need to be with my husband or whatever it is. And I think it’s important that you are talking about finding your village, that all these people understand that that’s where you’re at at this moment of time and you may not need extra support. You may just want to be with your family, or, whatever it is. And I think that’s another form of acceptance as well for both parties and everybody to accept that the mother is sometimes going through those hormonal roller coasters and they just need that time to chill.

Amanda Gorman: I completely agree. So well, thank you for making the time and space to talk about this. This is something that is obviously very important to me and I don’t think that the message can get out there anymore. So thank you.

Helen Thompson: Thank you. And if anybody wants to get these toolkits, how do they go about doing that?

Amanda Gorman: Yeah, to actually get the toolkits that I talked about specifically, those are all within the postpartum course that I’ve created and you can go to and you can buy the postpartum self-paced online course. And so it doesn’t matter what time zone you live in, where in the world you live, you can take the course in one day if you want, or, split it up over a couple of weeks. All of the toolkits that I talk about are in that course. And then one other thing is well my podcast, Finding Your Village. So if you are interested in listening to Helen, come on my podcast.

Helen Thompson: I highly recommend your podcast by the way. It’s a good podcast.

Amanda Gorman: And then one other thing that I can provide to your listeners, if anybody’s interested in downloading it, is my partner and I, who I created the postpartum course with, we created a free downloadable guide for tummy time. That was a topic that came up a lot, of, I wish someone would have told me that I can do tummy time as soon as I bring my baby home, I didn’t know when to do it. I didn’t know how long, I didn’t know if I could do it when their umbilical cord was still on. I didn’t know the best ways. So we just put together a free guide all about tummy time and so I can give you the link for that so that your listeners can download that.

Helen Thompson: Yeah, tummy time is a very, very interesting topic. It’s something that I incorporate a lot in baby massage. A lot of parents think, oh my baby, doesn’t like tummy time or when can I do tummy time? It’s interesting that you have a freebie on that because it’s something that I’d be quite interested in having a look at too.

Thank you, Amanda so much for being on the podcast. I’ve really enjoyed talking to you. Like I enjoyed talking on your lovely podcast too. So thank you for being a part of my first time mum’s community.

Amanda Gorman: Absolutely. And thank you again for having me.