|by Julie Paul on 09/16/2014 at 7:13 AM
Have you ever Googled the phrases ‘birth preferences’ or ‘birth plan’? I just did and got 189,000,000 hits. No wonder pregnant women get confused when they consider writing a birth plan. If this is your first baby, how are you supposed to know where to start? There are so many different options and everyone has an opinion of how your birth should go. This is an opportunity for you to learn more about pregnancy and birth. It can be a bit overwhelming so let’s review some of the more basic questions.
- What is a birth plan? Simply, a birth plan is a list of what you may or may not want for yourself and your baby during labor, birth and postpartum.
- Would I benefit from a birth plan? It is always a good idea to start educating yourself about the labor and birth process. Even if you don’t have a formal document, the process can be very helpful.
- Where do I want to have my baby? Women can have babies at home, birth centers and hospitals. A birth center is a location (usually separate from the hospital) where healthy; low-risk women can have a natural childbirth. If you are unsure where to have your baby, talk with your provider.
- Who should care for me during my pregnancy and birth? The different type of providers include: obstetricians, certified-nurse midwives (CNMs) and certified professional midwives (usually attend home births). An obstetrician is a medical doctor with expertise in high and low risk pregnancies. Obstetricians mainly practice in hospital settings but occasionally you may find one in a birth center. Certified Nurse-Midwives are experts in normal care for healthy, low-risk women (which most women are!). You will find midwives in hospitals and birth centers.
- How do I prepare for a normal vaginal birth? Ideally this starts before you are even pregnant. However, let’s just assume you are already pregnant. Eat right, exercise and don’t do drugs or alcohol. Most important- trust in the process and yourself!
- How will I manage the labor pain? Labor pain can be managed by changing positions, using the labor ball, get in the bath tub or shower. Using water while you are in labor can be very comforting. Eat what you want and drink often- water that is. Get enough rest! I can tell you- you are stronger than you think! Most women can do it without anything. However, in the event that you may need something—pain medication or epidurals (only in hospital) are available.
- Should I breastfeed? How you feed your baby is very personal. Do the research—what are the benefits of breastfeeding? Here are just a few:
- Protects your baby from illnesses like asthma and ear infections
- Increases bonding
- Protects your baby from developing allergies
- Protects against obesity
- Lowers risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
- May boost your child’s intelligence
- Reduces mom’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer
- What is skin-to-skin? This happens when the baby is put right on your chest right after the birth. Skin to skin can help regulate the baby’s temperature and help promote breastfeeding and bonding. This is a great time to celebrate everything you just did!
- Is delayed cord clamping a good idea? Delayed cord clamping is when the baby is still attached to the umbilical cord just after birth. This allows your baby to get an extra boost of blood volume to help prevent anemia. Sometimes the cord will be cut right after birth—if your baby needs extra support.
Once you have done your research, bring whatever questions you still have to your provider. They can help you develop a realistic plan and get your 3 page document down to one. A birth plan is a great way to start asking the right questions. The most important thing to keep in mind is that a birth plan is a list of desires. Birth doesn’t always go the way we want it to go. The best way to approach labor is with an open mind. Finally, there are many different paths you can take when having a baby, however, the goal is always Healthy Mom and Healthy Baby.