I’ve been asked by a number of expecting friends if I had a birth plan, and if so, did I follow it. The answer to the first question is yes and to the second, not really. Even though my birth didn’t go as planned, (do they ever?) I’m glad I had one. Here’s why and here is the shortened version of the plan. It was way long. If anyone is interested, let me know and I can forward you the whole thing.
At first, I didn’t think I needed one. Isn’t that what the nurses and my family is for? Don’t you just go in to labor, go to hospital, breathe through some contractions and push the baby out? Easy peasy right? LOL!
Luckily I was convinced to attend birth classes at Birth Roots, where the birth plan was highly encouraged. My four 3-hour classes gave me lots to think about and my birth plan ended up three pages long. I thought of everything. I remember how proud I was when I submitted it to my physician. She suggested a few edits and gave me a look that in hindsight I think probably meant something like “honey, your plan is never going to happen like this.”
I’ll leave the actual birth story for later. So if you’re curious how it actually went, stay tuned for my next post. Spoiler alert – I was in so much pain once labor began that I forgot everything I’d written and only some of it actually happened. However, I will say that I’m glad I had a plan and here are my top reasons why.
Reasons to have a birth plan
- It calms your nerves. If you are anything like me, when you hit 36 weeks, shit gets real. Sitting down to visualize and plan the birth you want to happen helps you feel more prepared and helps you loosen up a bit. Instead of obsessing over Amazon reviews of swaddle blankets, writing your birth plan causes you to stop and be more introspective.
- It gives you something to do. Leading up to your baby’s birthday, you’re in nesting mode. Cleaning the house, folding and refolding onesies, stocking the freezer with soup and casseroles etc…. You need chores to keep your mind and body busy and give you a sense of accomplishment. Once that babe comes, you won’t accomplish much of anything for a long time, so soak it up now.
- It could save you or your baby’s life. In addition to planning when your partner is to give you a foot massage or the exact position you’ll use on the birthing ball, your birth plan should contain important information like pre-existing conditions and allergies. Don’t count on the folks in the room to have reviewed or even have access to your entire medical record. Do you have gestational diabetes, asthma, an underlying heart condition, genital herpes, allergic to latex, or positive for Group B Strep? Write it down to ensure you take necessary precautions to keep you and your baby healthy.
- It makes your partner feel more involved. Whether they remember to follow the plan or not, writing it together is a great way for he or she to understand what you are going through when it happens. It’s also a great opportunity, before the whirlwind hits, to connect emotionally and spend some quality time together.
- It does the talking when you can’t! Chances are, you won’t follow it exactly or even at all. But you want to, and if you and your birth partner are both out of it (which my husband and I were…ok, more me) then it does the talking for you. At least a couple of the nurses I had in the hospital read it, and one in particular said to me, “I read your birth plan, and we’re going to make that birth happen.” Of course most of the birthing process had already occurred by then, but in the end at least some of it was followed because someone other than me was reading it.
So if you are interested, here is the abbreviated version of my plan.
My Birth Plan
Health Conditions of Note: (List any serious illness, pregnancy related issues, allergies, etc…) Positive for Group B Strep (GBS), Allergic to Penicillin – Reaction HIVES
Before Labor Begins
- If low, let me try to boost my amniotic fluid levels before being induced (Drink coconut water and lay on left side to increase amniotic fluid)
- If I go past my due date and the baby and I are fine, I prefer to be given the option to go into labor naturally rather than be induced.
- If a planned c-section is needed, we want to wait until labor begins
In the Hospital
- No students attending my birth
- No overhead lights (use battery operated candles)
- Keep the door closed
- Silence all cell phones
- I would like no one to speak during the actual delivery (unless I ask someone too), unless to coach me or talk about potential medically necessary interventions
- I would like to wear my own or no clothes during labor and delivery
Food and Water
- Remind me to eat in early labor and drink water throughout to keep up my energy
- Only bring me food that I bring with me to the hospital or that I request
I allow the following people to be present during my labor
- For me it was just my husband. If you know family and friends are going to show up, it’s nice for the staff to know who they can let in.
Speeding up labor/ Induction
- I do not want my membranes stripped during a vaginal exam unless absolutely necessary.
- If during labor induction is proposed, I would like to try natural induction techniques first
- If my water breaks before I go into labor, I would like to wait as long as possible before being induced, trying natural induction techniques first
- Make me move into different positions, try rubbing/tickling my feet or arms, massage my low back, have me take a bath or shower, tell me to concentrate on a point in the room
- Keep the room quiet and don’t talk to me too much
- Rub Frankincense essential oil blend on any place I say hurts (mix a few drops with coconut and rub into the skin)
- Back labor: put pure peppermint oil on my back (mix a few drops with coconut oil)
- Please only offer pain medications if I ask for them and even then give me a sense of how much I’ve progressed, and remind me of other options.
- If I do choose drugs, I’d like to still be able to walk around and move while in labor, not confined to the bed.
- I consent to have antibiotics to treat GBS
- I prefer to avoid antibiotics for the baby
- Prefer intermittent monitoring to allow for as much mobility as possible
- No forceps or suction unless absolutely necessary
- Suggest an enema if it may help with pushing or speeding up labor
To help prevent tearing (yes you have to think about this!)
- Apply hot compresses after applying Perineum blend
- Perineal massage using Perineum blend
- I prefer NOT to have an episiotomy and risk tearing
- For repairs, use local anesthetic only
- Continue to massage the perineum during delivery to minimize tearing
- Please tell me when to push if I don’t start instinctively
- I would like to view the birth using a mirror
- I would like to touch my baby’s head as it crowns
- Let my husband catch the baby and put her on my abdomen if possible
- I would like the baby put on my abdomen as soon she is born
- I would prefer for the placenta to be born without the use of Pitocin
- If not an absolute emergency, try letting me walk, squat or get into any positions known to move the baby into position before resorting to cesarean
- Have me try to urinate, use the bathroom (talk about an enema)
- If contractions are not strong enough and all natural remedies have been tried, try Pitocin before a cesarean
- My husband is to be present at all times during the cesarean
- Delay cutting the cord as long as possible
- I would like my partner to be the baby’s constant source of attention until I can be
- If my baby is healthy, I would like to hold my baby and nurse her immediately
After Baby is Born
- As long as my baby is healthy, I would like my baby placed immediately skin-to-skin on my abdomen, while placenta is delivered and any necessary stiches are made
- Do not cut the cord until it stops pulsing, let my husband cut the cord
- Do not bathe my baby for 24 hours
- Only diaper, bathe and clothe my baby in the products I provide
- I prefer to rub in vernix versus wiping it off
- Remind me to try to breastfeed immediately
- Please delay all essential/routine procedures (eye drops, vit. K, immunizations) on my baby until after the bonding and breastfeeding period is over
- Please do not separate my baby and me. Perform all tests and procedures while she’s with me if at all possible
- If my baby’s health is in jeopardy, I would like to be transported with my baby if possible and at the least to have my husband and/or aunt to go with the baby. I’d like someone to stay with me to keep me updated.
- My baby is to be exclusively breastfed
- Do not offer my baby the following without my consent
- Sugar water
Remainder of hospital stay
- Ask before allowing guests in to see me
- Keep baby in the room at all times, unless there is a medical reason not to.