When you create a birth plan, you place your attention and intention on your ideal labor and delivery and what it will take to make it happen.
Just like every pregnant friend of mine, I wanted to have a drug-free, natural birth. Although I hadn’t done much research to know what it would take, it sounded like the “right” thing to do, so I set my mind to it.
At my 38 week check-up, I was 2 cm dilated and my OB asked us to go to the hospital immediately. I had been experiencing random contractions since that morning, so we decided it is best to go. We spent 10 hours in the lounge area, swaying, walking and climbing a hundred stairs. Finally, at 6 cm dilated, they moved me to the labor room.
My cervix was slow to open, so I opted to sit in a warm bath to relieve the pain. While I was there, the nurse asked me a few times if I wanted an epidural.
I gently declined.
But with every progressing contraction, I was lost my will power and felt like I might die without the epidural.
She came back again with an ultimatum (at least it sounded like one to me). She said the anesthetist was going to be busy for a while and if I wanted the epidural, this was the time.
I could feel the fear coursing through my body, and I gave in. Shortly after saying yes, my birth experience veered in a completely different direction than I had imagined. The nurse had to break my water manually. The epidural had numbed my body and my senses. I lay there feeling no urge to push. After nearly 24 hours of labor, they had to use forceps to bring my son out.
My birth experience was not as traumatic as others. And for that, I am thankful. I am grateful that my precious baby was brought into this world safe and healthy. But I also wished I’d been more prepared about the whole process.
For my second baby, that’s what I did.
- I learned about how to stay comfortable and labor at home instead of rushing to the hospital.
- I spoke to my doctor and developed a set of alternate pain relief options and birthing positions to try for increased chances of natural birth.
- I had my support team ready to keep me focused and maintain a positive mindset throughout the labor.
- I had a birth plan that listed how I wished my labor and delivery to be, and I came prepared for it.
WHAT IS A BIRTH PLAN?
A birth plan is essentially a document where you list all your preference regarding labor, childbirth, and newborn care. It contains details on how you want to handle pain, whether you are okay with certain procedures like epidural, episiotomy, etc.
Writing your own plan or following a birth plan template can also highlight any alternate methods you wish to practice such as water birth, changing labor positions, using an exercise ball, etc.
See also: Natural Childbirth in a Hospital
Of course, not everything is guaranteed to happen as planned. Every labor is different. While you’ve made your wishes known, be prepared to embrace deviations from the birth plan, trusting that you and your birthing team will do the best to deliver your baby safe and sound.
3 REASONS TO CREATE A BIRTH PLAN
If there is no guarantee whether a birth plan would be followed, why do you even care to write one? Here are three reasons why having a birth plan can make a real difference in how your labor and delivery unfold.
YOUR BIRTH PLAN SERVES AS A COMMUNICATION TOOL
A birth plan acts as a communication tool that helps ensure you, your caregivers, and your support team are on the same page. Your doctor or midwife may have delivered hundreds of babies, and there’s no way she will anticipate your preferences unless you explain them.
Your birth plan is your wish list. Whether you want to have a support doula on site, use a birthing ball, or get the epidural… you and your partner can designate it all beforehand. Your caregivers can then provide suggestions that align with your wishes or avoid offering options that contradict your plan.
A BIRTH PLAN CAN BE ENORMOUSLY EMPOWERING
The best part about writing a birth plan is the process itself. You feel confident knowing you have carefully considered all the options available to you. You feel mentally prepared for the ideal birth experience for you and your baby.
Writing or following a birth plan template also pushes you to take responsibility for your birth experience and helps you get physically and mentally ready for the big day.
A PLAN OFFERS CLARITY DURING AN INTENSE TIME
There are several important decisions to make right after your baby is born. Whether you wish to exclusively breastfeed, delay cord clamping, how soon the first bath should occur, or whether or not to administer eye drops… Planning ahead helps you approach these decisions from a point of clarity – not exhaustion.
And if you’re curious to know if my birth plan helped me with my second child, I am delighted to say it did!
With my second birth, I choose to labor at home until my contractions became strong. I went directly to the labor room once I reached the hospital. I pushed out my little girl into this world without any intervention or medication.
I can confidently say that creating my birth plan enabled me to experience the birth I desired. And I wish the same for you.