Let’s Talk Birth Plan……

We often find that many women don’t realize that they have many options and choices when it comes to the birth process. No two births are alike and it is difficult to plan the course of events but you can make some decisions and identify some expectations before labor begins.

A birth plan is like any other important plan. Wedding plan, vacation plan, retirement plan…  We all have a preconceived idea of how we would like to have things go during these important events in our lives. Birth is no different.

How do you envision your labor? Do you feel birth is more of a medical procedure or is it a more spiritual event?  Whatever your viewpoint, the birth of a baby is one of the most significant and remembered days in your life.

From a historical perspective birth plans were introduced by women who were advocates of natural childbirth in the 1970s. Birth had become more like a medical procedure.  Women labored alone. They were heavily medicated.  They gave birth in sterile operating rooms. Babies were brought out of the nursery only for feedings.

Women wanted a voice. Simple requests like being allowed to be out of bed, have your husband or partner with you, choices about medication and sedation, keeping your baby with you.

Most of the requests listed on birth plans now have become a part of routine OB care. However, some providers may have a different opinion or different philosophy of childbirth.  Sometime pregnancies develop risk factors that limit options.

That’s why it is important to outline what you would like out of the experience. A birth plan is a tool for communication with your doctor or midwife.  It’s an opportunity for you to make sure that both of you are on the same page.  If your provider has some hesitation or difference of opinion it gives them the chance to explain why they have a different view.  On the flip side it helps them to understand your expectations.

Communication long before labor begins will lead to a much more positive experience.

Some things to typically found on birth plans include:

Where do you plan to have the baby?

What is your plan for pain management?  Natural labor or epidural?

If natural labor what pain management methods are you considering?

Who do you want to be with you in labor?

Is it important to have a quiet environment?

Do you want the baby to be continuously monitored or do you wish to be off a monitor if you are low risk?

Do you want to hold your baby immediately after the birth?

If the baby is a boy do you want him to be circumcised?

Would you like to avoid an episiotomy?

Do you want to be discharged from the hospital as soon as possible?

Do you plan to breastfeed or bottle feed?

Birth is one of those memories you will keep with you for a lifetime. So educate yourself.  Look at options.  Ask women about their birth experiences.   Discover what key elements are important to you.

The majority of the time things go as planned. But with all plans things always don’t go as intended.  It sometimes rains on wedding days, vacation flights get delayed or cancelled, retirement gets postponed.

Remember in childbirth the outcome trumps the journey. What is most important is the tiny little person that will be a part of the rest of your life.  Celebrate the day you will never forget.