Women today are given great liberties when it comes to planning their birth. Some go so far as to opt for Cesarean sections and even pick the date so that it is convenient for them and their family situations. With all this planning, it can be easy to forget that childbirth and delivery are two of those things in life that don’t always work according to plan. Still, it is wise to develop an informed birthing plan and outline your wishes as clearly as possible so that there are no misunderstandings or mistakes made when it comes to the delivery of your baby.
One of the nicest features of a making a birthing plan before labor and delivery is that it gives you and your spouse a perfect opportunity to learn what to expect and the many different options that exist. One thing that is often overlooked by couples is the ‘taking names’ so to speak as to who you wish to be present at your birth. Too many women go into labor and delivery and have a waiting room full of people they barely know who feel more than comfortable walking into the room just as the nurse is telling you to ‘push!!’ You may not be the sensitive or modest type, however the last thing you want your boss or your husbands second cousin to see is a snapshot of your ‘privates’ while your feet are up in stirrups. The benefit to outlining who you want in the room with a birthing plan is that it takes the weight and pressure off of you. The nurses can kick people out effectively and you won’t be blamed for ousting your mother or father in law. Just blame it on the nurses!
Inclusive birthing plans also allow you to outline your decisions about pain medications and interventions. Many birthing centers and hospitals have pre-printed birthing plans registrations for patients that know they are going to deliver. These are the best ones to get your hands on because it gives you a bird’s eye look at all the options that you actually have. Some are so thorough that you can decide what sort of lighting you want, if you want music playing in the background, if you want to try a water birth or if you want to remain mobile during labor. You may discover options for birthing stools or squatting chairs that women who didn’t bother to see a birthing plan won’t be privy to after the fact.
Many birthing centers will also allow you to decide for yourself whether you want constant fetal monitoring, ‘push’ assistance from nurses (or to be just left alone), as well as your desires when it comes to an episiotomy.
For those that aren’t weak at heart, you can request vaginal mirrors, the chance to touch the baby’s head when it crowns as well as appoint the dad to be to be the one who catches or pulls the baby out. If you are dead set to cut the umbilical cord or want daddy to do it, a birthing plan will make sure that your request is properly noted. Other options typically found on a birthing plan are your wishes for the baby postpartum. Many women do not get to witness or take part in the first bath and often babies are given a pacifier before the breast. Your birthing plan will have a section that clearly shows you are the boss when it comes to your newborn and you can decide what can be offered, how things need to be handled and how much you want to participate at the time. If you are breastfeeding, you should clearly mandate that the breast if offered prior to any other suckling devices. Having a boy? The birthing plan should also include your wishes for circumcision or not as well!
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Birthing plans are essentially a way to offer you the ability to pilot your birthing experience. You can schedule and dictate who should be included on the first meet and greet with the baby, whether you want your other children to take part and even what you want your newborn to be dressed in. Some of these milestones may seem insignificant, but the truth is that many women have negative birthing experiences that can cause some emotional issues post partum. Often, women are rushed into circumstances and led into medications or procedures that they aren’t aware other options even exist. The hospital staff doesn’t do this to be mean, it’s just to them your birth is just part of a 12 hour shift’ no biggie! To you, it is one of the most monumental experiences of your entire lifetime.
Your postpartum wishes are also considered. You might not want to share a room, might want your baby to reside with you in the room or you may prefer a nursery. You may not want to take part in certain immunizations or routine medical diagnosing right after delivery or at least not without you being present. If you don’t disclose this information, things will just occur often without your knowing.
It is absolutely essential that you realize just because you have the most detailed birthing plan on the planet; some things might not go as planned. Your newborn may decide to come in breach or there may be signs of fetal distress. Your husband may be out of town and even though you were concrete in your wishes to not receive pain medication it may hurt so bad that you CHANGE YOUR MIND! And you are entitled to do so. Realize also that your doctor’s job is to make sure that delivery is safe for you and baby and sometimes this can mean that things happen you didn’t plan for. It isn’t a failure to have to have a c-section at the last minute and it is commonplace for some babies to experience problems post delivery that have them rushed away to the NICU. Be flexible. Realize that your plans, however well intended, can be overwritten at any moment when it comes the safety or medical discretion of the attending physician.
Birthing plans have a great place in pregnancy. Check out the printable birthing plans that you may find affiliated with your intended birthing center or hospital. At the very least, it will open up dialogue between you and your spouse as well as your doctor. Consider that there is a good chance you may go into labor at the spur of the moment on a Saturday when your favorite OBGYN is in Jamaica getting married. The birthing plan should be in your file (and in your suitcase) and ensures that no matter who is assisting you during your birth your wishes will be well known.
Childbirth is one of those miraculous events that you can’t redo. While you can’t predict with accuracy what will happen, when and how you can take a proactive approach to ensure that your wishes and desires for you, your baby and your new family are met as closely as possible and that is the sole intention of a birthing plan.