From epidurals to unlikely labor coaches, one mama shares everything you want to know about making a birth plan.
Before I even knew I 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 their 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).
Consider your pain threshold
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 unmedicated 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.
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.