After talking to first time moms, I was in disbelief of how many didn’t know their options. Some have even said, “I’m going to a mid-wife next time” or didn’t know there was any other way. I have to say, this was me but fortunately I haven’t had to birth a baby yet.
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS! When considering doctors, birthing centers, and the whole deal – it came down to money and I just assumed insurance didn’t cover midwifery care. I was DEAD WRONG and I am really glad I was. The midwifery we use is associated with the hospital system, files insurance, and is eager to delivery my baby the way I want to. If you are you are limited to using a OB/GYN for whatever reason, there are doctors who practice or are comfortable using more natural methods. But the biggest thing to consider is what is whole group like because you may be getting the on-call doctor. As you consider which health provider to choose, it’s important to know different labor and delivery methods. How do you picture yourself laboring? How do you picture yourself delivering your baby? Will you use some type of pain killer? What are the pros and cons for all of these? This is one of the biggest days of your life and settling on a health care provider should be carefully decided. To really understand your options, I would encourage you to enroll into a birthing class other than what the hospital provides. This is not to say the hospital’s approach is wrong, but it doesn’t give you the full spectrum of choices and how you could do things differently. If money allows you, this is where a birthing doula is very useful. They already know what is “normal” to the hospital and knows how to get them to accommodate to your needs.
CHOOSING YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER. Because of my personal approach on health (natural first, then medical intervention when needed or when the benefits greatly out-weigh the negatives), I really wanted to find somewhere that would respect my approach but I didn’t get there overnight. After experiencing my two miscarriages with this one OB/GYN office, I realized I needed and wanted more in a health care provider for my next pregnancy. I had a great OB at another office, but she didn’t deliver babies which is why I landed at that one OB/GYN office. If I followed her recommendation in the beginning, I might have avoided such a bad experience – but her office originally recommended me to the midwifery. Now that I’m there with this pregnancy, I couldn’t be happier! I tell you this because it might be hard to find someone or somewhere that fits what you want and need, but you should explore your options before choosing a provider to help give you the best experience as possible.
WRITING THE BIRTH PLAN. Now you know what your options are, have chosen a health care provider, and now you need to make your wishes known for any and all medical staff involved with the birth. But wait, there’s more – it’s not just for them, it’s for YOU and your birth partner too! When writing out your wishes, it’s important to remember that it’s JUST a plan, not a requirement. Occasions arise that may require you to alter your plans, just as life does and if you have the mindset that “this is what I want” or “need”, it may make the birthing experience stressful.
When writing out your plan, you are carefully preparing mentally and allowing you and your partner to be on the same page before the birth even begins. If you are planning a natural birth (without medical intervention), this is crucial because you REALLY will need the support of your birth partner.
Here is a copy of my birth plan and reasons why I have chosen this path:
- During labor, I prefer the birth room to have privacy, dim lights, peace and quiet, and music of my choice.
- If I’m not in the water, I prefer to move around, and to use a birthing ball and/or rocking chair. This is proven to speed up labor
- I prefer intermittent fetal monitoring.
- For pain relief, I prefer non-medicinal options such as massage, walking, changing positions, shower, relaxation techniques. Epidural upon request only please!
- During delivery, I prefer spontaneous pushing and to deliver my baby in the tub.
- During delivery, I prefer to have my husband and doula present.
- After delivery, delayed cutting of the umbilical cord (after it stops pulsating) and my husband to cut the umbilical cord.
- I plan on breastfeeding and prefer that my baby get no bottles.
- I prefer no circumcision.
- We have chosen to decline Hep B vaccine and eye ointment.
Here are the reasons why I have chosen this path:
- When considering a natural labor, I need to cultivate an environment that will allow for relaxation. For me, that’s a private, quiet, dim lighting, and maybe some music. Some of you may be asking, why do you need to relax. In short – this is a coping mechanism and can even speed up labor. If you are relaxed, the walls and tissue “below” are relaxed, making it easier on baby.
- Moving around, walking, and using birthing balls rules out epidurals for pain management, unless you have a “Walking Epidural”. Taking this approach can helps get the baby in position, speeds up labor, and are other forms of coping mechanisms for pain management.
- I prefer intermittent fetal monitoring because I don’t want to be hooked up to any machines and want to be mobile or in the tub. While there are wireless and water resistant kinds – I just want to keep things off my body due to personal preference. If for any reason my birth becomes a high risk, then electronic fetal monitoring will be most appropriate.
- I will only consider medicinal use as a last resort. Some woman may want to feel empowered by saying no to drugs, or like me want to get the baby out the way it was intended. But there is a reason drugs were created and can be used appropriately. As a first time mama, I don’t know what labor will be like or for how long. If labor becomes 20+ hours, this might be the time to consider alternatives.
- Spontaneous pushing is in my opinion best. You are working with your body and going with our God-given urges which I believe is most efficient. Direct pushing is used commonly if a woman has had an epidural. Because of the method I’ve chosen, I also believe my recovery will be better than those who have had an epidural and direct pushing.
- In short, these are all proven methods to reduce stress on the body, shorten labor, do the least amount of damage to the perineal area, promote healthy bonding for mother and baby, and to hopefully have a “good” birth experience.
When writing your own birthing plan, keep it to the point. Remember nurses and doctors will be reading this and their time is valuable. Perhaps use bullet points and organize it based on stages of labor, print it on a different color piece of paper, have multiple copies, and use language that is kind like “we prefer” and “we would like”. Also include who your birthing partner is, and who you would like to be present. Some doctors only allow a certain number of people in the room while others welcome anyone as long as they are not in the way, so this should be discussed during your pre-natal visits.