One-page profiles in pregnancy

An example of how this woman used a one-page profile in pregnancy to help her communicate well and direct her own support. This is the story of the one-page profile Rowan created two years ago whilst pregnant with her first daughter

Written by Rowan Hall

Rowan's one-page profile

Rowan’s one-page profile

Today, Helen and I wrote my one-page profile, something Helen will use to understand me in our person-centred journey and importantly, a way of really getting me to think  about who I am, what is important to me and  what I need in terms of support. This might sound like a bit of an odd thing to do, especially if you are someone who is fairly confident that they understand themselves (as I was) but it wasn’t until I really started hammering down on some of the points, that I realised that actually the things that are important to me sometimes conflict with my self-image. For example; I’d like to think I am independent and self-reliant and yet when I started writing down how I spend my time, what makes me happy and who is in my circle of support, it would appear that I require babysitting by friends 95% of the time!

Ok, maybe babysitting is a little harsh but I pretty much seem to need to talk to my friends non stop either by email, phone or in person throughout the day. I do of course break to work, cycle, sleep and spend some time with Jon but other than that, I can keep my conversations going through meals, shopping expeditions – even in the bath. This might not seem like an  important revelation in the great scheme of things but in noting it, I have realised that it is something that is very likely to change once our baby is born. I need to think about how I can continue to feel the support that I get from these relationships with my close friends when I will undoubtedly have less time to dedicate to them.

Something else I became aware off when working through the one-page profile  was  that delivering our baby at home (being one of the two options currently available to me , the other being in hospital), might not be the best choice. It is possibly too early to come to this conclusion and I am sure there is much more to explore with Helen before we complete my person-centred birthing plan but I am conscious that some of the things that I have listed as important to me involve my home and are not necessarily conducive with a relaxed birthing environment. For example, I currently have a noisy neighbour who insists on playing rave music into the early hours. Imagine labour but instead of a chill out mix tape (complete with the essential Massive Attack’s Teardrop track) playing soothingly in the background, you are confronted with  repetitive base beats vibrating through the floor boards. On the flip side, the idea of a home birth appeals because I think it would be more of a shared experience with my partner (again something that I have noted as important to me) – who won’t be sent home to sleep once the baby is born or have to leave us to get changed or eat as he would if I was in hospital. Lots to think about.

My one-page profile set’s out what is important to me now and how best to support me. I will use it in pregnancy and plan to create another to use in birth.

You can read more about one-page profiles in pregnancy and other person-centred thinking tools from the Pregnancy Parenting and Personalisation website.

The youngest person yet to use a one-page profile!

The youngest person yet to use a one-page profile. Baby James was just three days old when his mum created his profile to help hospital staff understand how best to support them both.

James' one-page profile

James’ one-page profile

Written by mum Deb

James arrived a day after his due date, after around 16 hours of labour.  The cord was around his neck, he was in a difficult position, and so we were advised that we needed a vacuum delivery. He was born just before 8pm under a blue moon.  He was the most beautiful purplish slippery floppy thing that I had ever seen.  After a brief cuddle, he was whisked away to the special care nursery to await a visit from the pediatrician.  My friend and student midwife persisted with staff until they returned my baby to me, looking a healthier shade of pink and gazing endlessly at me with his deep dark blue eyes.

Aside from a bruised and swollen head, he was deemed healthy and okay to see the doctor in the morning.  The nurses decided that I was too fatigued to responsibly look after my baby that night, so he was taken back to the special nursery and I spent a sleepless night euphoric, yet pining for my baby boy. My first night as a mother held the strangest combination of immeasurable joy and a complete sense of powerlessness.  I knew my baby and I would both be better off together, but just couldn’t seem to organise my thoughts well enough to do anything about it.

James spent most of the next day sleeping and being woken for feeds.  We struggled to get James to feed which resulted in us both being pushed, poked, guided and prodded in spite of the hospital’s ‘hands off’ policy in relation to support with breast feeding.  By day three I was exhausted and emotional, and James had started to cry every time I tried to position him for a feed.

I had shared my own one-page profile with as many staff as I could, and virtually every new nurse that came on shift sat down with me and we talked through it together.  A couple of staff used it as an opportunity to basically tell me I knew nothing relative to their extensive experience, but the majority listened attentively and asked clarifying questions.  Heartened by this, I scrawled down James’ first one-page profile while he slept and I should have been resting.

In those early days of fatigue and confusion, writing out James’ profile helped me to make sense of my thoughts and to begin to understand this little person.  At a time when any sense of control was fleeting at best, James’ one-page profile provided a way to assert how we’d prefer to be supported.  I received mixed responses from staff, but I have one particularly positive memory that has stayed with me.

It was around two in the morning and a midwife who was close to my own age sat quietly beside me as I attempted to feed James.  As she read our profiles she related stories about feeding her own three children.  She talked about how each baby was different, each wonderful and puzzling, and each very much their own person from the moment they arrived.  She was encouraging and reassuring, and she provided guidance without any sense of pressure.  She told me that our profiles helped her to know exactly what we needed from her rather than guessing and having the usual feeling as though she’s just not quite getting it right.

An added bonus from writing James’ profile at such an early point has been looking back at it so many months later and remembering details that I am sure I would have forgotten otherwise.

Birth plan using a one-page profile – “push it good”

An example of how using a one-page profile format to produce a birthing plan gave these first time parents the confidence and control they needed in labour. Robin and Adam’s story also describes the benefits of presenting important information in this way to medical staff; helping them tune in to the couple and support them in the birth of their daughter.

Written by Robin and Adam

robin and adam's birth planWe are first time parents who used a one-page profile format to write our birth plan. We had noticed that most birth plans being given out during our hospital tour were only casually glanced at by the nursing staff and we wanted to make sure that the people present at our birth would pay greater attention to ours. We had very particular requests and it was important that we delivered the information in a way that was quick and easy to read.

To write our birth plan profile, we invited our friends and family for tea and we casually shared what we thought we wanted.  They offered suggestions and ideas and it worked well because it was casual and at home.

We shared our birth plan one-page profile with our family doctor and OBGYN (both of whom loved it!). We kept a copy in our medical file and also had a copy placed on the door of our birthing suite.

During some of the more tense and scary moments of my daughter’s birth, we were able to keep all support staff on the same page thanks to our plan. This was helpful to them since they were not fumbling with a five page document which is what they often had to work with.

More importantly, it helped us as first time parents to have a team that knew how to support us best.  Naturally, we were terrified of the labour process at the time, and this enabled us to have a sense of control in what is sometimes a chaotic process.

Having our birth plan in a one-page profile format also really helped the nursing staff understand what was important to us (get her out as safely as possible!) and what support we needed as first timers (I don’t handle blood well!). Many nurses and students came up to us afterwards wanting to know more about it, and how they could encourage other parents to write birth plans in this way.

We really feel that producing our birth plan in this way was paramount in making our labour experience such a positive one. We had one nurse come in with an iPod and sing “push it good” by salt-n-peppa on a whim and we actually laughed during labour. How many people can say that?  We later learned that the nursing staff felt comfortable going the extra mile as they felt that they knew us as a couple thanks to our plan and it really helped them know how to make our experience a positive one.

If you would like to read more about people’s experiences using person-centred thinking tools in pregnancy and labour you can follow our pregnancy, parenting and personalisation blog here.