What’s the one must-have for a good birthplan? Flexibility

From epidurals to unlikely labor coaches, one mama shares everything you want to know about making a birth plan.

What’s the one must-have for a good birthplan? Flexibility

Before I even knewI was pregnant, I started planning how I would give birth. A true shocker to those who know me… not.

I had planned for every possible scenario that I could think of, and I knew exactly what I wanted and how I wanted it. No, I didn't drive my husband crazy with my pre-pregnancy neuroticism. ?

So, what did I include in my birth plan?

Since I made it mostly as a reference and reminder for myself, I included everything from what to pack for the hospital to whether I wanted my child to have a circumcision after birth.


Although I discussed my plan with my doctor and hospital nurses, I felt comfortable simply keeping it up my sleeve in case things started going differently than I wished. Fortunately, I was surrounded by professionals who listened and cared about my birthing desires.

In case you want to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, here are a few things to include in your birth plan.

Where will you have your baby?

There are so many options for where you can give birth these days.

I don't think I would choose the backseat of a car or anything, but hey, to each her own.

There are home births, birthing centers, hospitals and a plethora of choices in between.

Each of these options may depend on the type of pregnancy you have (e.g., low or high risk) and what type of medical professional you are enlisting to help you through your pregnancy and delivery (e.g., midwife, doula, OB, general practitioner).

Is your pain level here ?, here ? or here ??

The next big decision is what form of pain reducer (note, I did not say reliever) you would like to use, if any.

I had heard my mother's and MIL's birthing stories, one including a full day of laboring followed by an emergency C-section and one completely natural—both drastically different and both insanely heroic.

After hearing their inspiring stories, I felt a little lame stating that I refused to go through labor with no epidural. Did it stop me from getting one? Heck no. If you ask me, childbirth is “natural" enough as it is.

Mama, you do not need to prove anything to anyone—including yourself.

If you think your body will respond well to a natural childbirth, I say give it a whirl! If you know your body needs a bit of help relaxing to get the birthing process started, go for it!

In my case, I labored for hours at 2 cm and even though I was no further along, I couldn't stand any more pain without an epidural. Once I had one, things progressed smoothly—and rapidly.

Whether you end up with an epidural, pain medications, a C-section or just a really upbeat playlist on your phone to get you through the pain, it doesn't matter. The birthing process is only one (or two) days of the entirety of motherhood. Try to keep the big picture in mind.

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Do you really want to share everything with your partner?

I was lucky to give birth in a hospital where my husband could stay for comfort and support the entire time.

That being said, I had a little chat with him beforehand.

Call me crazy, but I preferred that he wait in the wings, Mad Men style, than see more than he (and I) bargained for. I at least told him to stay far north of all the birthing action. He, of course, wanted to be involved the whole time, to assist and even cut the umbilical cord.

There were times I was grateful, and others… well, not so much.

For example: I'm a vegetarian, yet all I wanted my entire pregnancy was Chick-fil-A. My husband had abstained with me for the entire 40 weeks, but decided it would be a good idea to order it during my labor—when I couldn't eat anything. I know, right?!

Maybe I should have laid a few more ground rules beforehand.

As it was, I was so grateful to have my husband as my labor coach. I know it would have been much harder without him by my side, chicken nuggets and all.

Just something to consider as you make your plans. ?

Phew, the hard part's over.

Once you have given birth, there are still a few other choices you will want to make.

First things first, if you want to bond with baby right away, you might specify that your nurse or doctor wait a few minutes before giving baby that gunky eye ointment that will obstruct baby's already limited vision of your beautiful face. It usually just needs to be applied within two hours of birth.

You will also want to consider whether you want your baby to stay in the recovery room with you, whether you want your child to be circumcised if he's a boy, and when and how you will first feed baby. If you are adamant about breastfeeding, you may want to specify that you do not want baby to have formula in the hospital.

One other thing: You may want to quietly let your nurses know ahead of time if you are too tired for an entourage of visitors. A few proud grandmas and grandpas is one thing. A barrage of happy faces when all you want to do is sleep may be quite another. Nurses are notoriously good at breaking the news to visitors gently—they can even blame it on “visiting hours."

At the end of the day, there is one thing that needs to be in your birth plan: flexibility.

Keep an open mind and try to roll with the inevitable surprises that come with childbirth. Do this and you won't be disappointed in the experience—or yourself. This is not just true of childbirth. It is true of motherhood.

Take a deep breath. Hee hee hee hoo. You've got this, mama.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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