Pregnancy is a life-changing experience, and as an expectant mother, there are a number of child birthing classes you have planned, and things to get in order to prepare for childbirth, before it gets too close to your due date. Creating a birth plan is a modern practice and can be a convenient tool to have in place as it tells your midwife, doctor, spouse, and everyone involved with your baby’s delivery what your ideal birthing circumstances are.
Advantages of a Birth Plan
Like the explanation above however, the idea of a birth plan is planning for the ideal birthing circumstances, and as with anything in life, your birth plan may not go completely as planned. During any childbirth, healthcare professionals will do what they deem necessary to keep you and your unborn child safe. However, by having a birth plan in place, you can provide them with your preferences, so you get the majority of your childbirth in accordance to your wishes.
As an expectant mother, you have a myriad of options when it comes to how you bring your child into the world, from labor and delivery preferences, to location preferences and medication choices, the list contains more elements than you’d image at first thought. With so many options, and decisions to choose, you can easily become overwhelmed by the birth planning process.
Whether you and your partner are first-time parents, of if you’re just looking to better hone your birth plan for your next baby, here’s a list of things to consider adding to your birth plan.
Things to Consider Adding to Your Birth Plan
Most pregnant women are familiar with the infamous birthing bag, or hospital bag. This bag contains items you need during the birthing process including legal information, insurance, and comfort items.
If you have other children or pets, you’ll need to make plans for them prior to going into labor. Be sure to ask your parents, friends, or loved ones to be available on call to watch your children or pets when you go into labor, especially if they’ll have to pick them up. Likewise, discuss with them your wishes for sleeping arrangements, and hospital visitation once baby arrives.
Believe it or not, the moment you get to the hospital, it’s not all about putting your feet up and pushing. The laboring period can take time, and for many women, that time isn’t spent laying on their back in bed. If you are hoping for different laboring positions out of bed, make sure your support team and doctor is aware of it, so they can help accommodate your laboring preference.
Traditionally, mothers choose to give birth at the hospital, and for many soon-to-be mothers, they have a preference of which hospital they are taken to after doing research during pregnancy and speaking with their doctor. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options available for those who would like to take a different route. If you prefer giving birth in your home or in a birthing center, you should include that in your plans. That way, when the time comes to starting contractions, the person assisting you knows how to set everything up or help take you to your desired location.
Depending on the size of your family, or your personal preferences, you may or may not want traffic in and out of the room during delivery. For some women there are concerns about having dad-to-be in the delivery room, or letting parents and grandparents in immediately after delivery. If you have trouble communicating your wishes to family and friends, sharing your wishes with your spouse, midwife, or even your doctor can help, as they can help relay this information to family and friends so they give you the time and space you want to deliver and bond with your new baby.
In addition to the family and friend preference you have for the delivery room and post-delivery visitation, another consideration is who want included in your birthing team. Perhaps it’s as simple as you and your spouse, but for other women, there is the consideration of having a birthing coach, or a doula, or the specification of a midwife versus an OB, these are all details that should be established prior to the final weeks of pregnancy.
Before labor begins, in some cases induction methods are required to get the process started. Before it gets to this point however, you should have your mind made up whether you want to participate in elective or recommended induction methods. While some labor induction may not be possible due to certain circumstances, being aware of the natural and medically assisted approaches to induction is good knowledge to have ahead of time so that you know what methods are your first preference, if given the choice, and so that you know what to expect why these methods are proposed.
This may seem like a simple, or even silly question, but there are steps that you need to take that lead up to your ideal birth method. For example, you may have your heart set on delivering naturally, and there for you may be interested in different types of delivery positions for a natural birth. On the other hand if you are looking for a scheduled C-section, your doctor will need to be made aware of this so they are ready to proceed when the time comes.
If you are looking at giving birth at home or in a birthing center, other considerations should be addressed as well. For example, if you want to begin and continue your delivery in water to ease contractions. This should be noted and even discussed with your spouse, midwife or doctor so that they can ensure a birthing tub is available when the time comes.
There’s no question, regardless of which child birthing route you decide, there will be some pain involved, which is why it is important to decide ahead of time what measures you want to take to limit your pain. Let doctors or your spouse know ahead of time if you want to approve an epidural or if there is a specific type of epidural you do or do not want. If you want your spouse or birthing coach to apply counter pressure measures to ease contraction pain, make sure they know how to apply it and are ready to do so when needed. Alternative pain reduction methods such as hypnobirthing and hypnosis, aromatherapy, heat packs or breathing techniques should also be noted so those around you can help you apply them if the pain begins to fog your mindset.
For many new mothers, simply having their baby to hold is the only end goal, for others, there are other preferences when it comes to post-delivery. For example, one trend that has become more popular is placenta encapsulation, if this is something you want to do, sharing this knowledge with your doctor or midwife ahead of time will be key. Other preferences may include delayed cord clamping, umbilical cord milking or cord blood donation, all of which should be discussed with your doctor or midwife ahead of time to plan for these practices to be followed if possible.
What Happens if Your Birth Plan Doesn’t Go According to Plan
Nobody knows when they’ll go into labor. And the truth is, even the most well-planned births can go out the window when something comes up. While it may be tough to deal with, if your birthing plan doesn’t go as you had hoped, don’t beat yourself up about it. Even if your labor and delivery is the complete opposite of what you wanted, be ready to go with the flow and focus on having a healthy baby.
For instance, if your birthing plan states you want a natural delivery and your baby is breeched, you may have to forego your vaginal birthing plan and have a cesarean for the sake of your baby’s safety. If you initially want a natural delivery but then find you can’t handle the pain, it’s okay to switch things up last minute and opt in for an epidural. When it comes to delivery, knowledge is power and the simple acknowledgment of focusing on what is in your control and trusting in your doctors and those around you can help you cope with complications or changes in the delivery room. Blaming yourself or others for changes in the plan can causes unhealthy stress and anxiety that you and your baby don’t need during such a crucial time.
All in all, having a birth plan puts details in place prior to having your baby and these pre-made decisions can help save you from unnecessary decision making or stress when you are feeling most vulnerable. While you want to have your ideal circumstances documented when the time comes, you should also be okay with however your labor takes place. Besides, as soon as you see your little one’s face, the details behind the labor and delivery become an afterthought. So, embrace your delivery journey however it comes, and whatever it deals.