Planning Baby’s From the first positive pregnancy test, many moms-to-be fret over labor. Writing a birth plan can help relieve your anxiety, and—like Kegels! —it’s a valuable predelivery exercise. A birth plan is a document that tells your medical team your preferences and desires for such things as how to manage labor pain. Most hospitals provide a birth plan worksheet or brochure that explains the hospital’s philosophy of childbirth – giving you options and guidelines. Much of your birth experience will be dictated by the setting you select and the caregivers assisting, so it’s important to learn your options before penning your preferences. In addition, it is impossible to completely control how your little one will make his or her grand entrance.
Things to Think About when Creating Your Birth Plan: Birth setting policies. You may want to chow down on hamburgers during labor, but many hospitals limit your consumption to ice chips. Get familiar with your delivery location’s policies ahead of time.
Procedures of your health care provider. Atmosphere. Do you want a high-energy ambiance with jazzy music or a quiet, softly lit setting for your baby’s big debut?
Preparatory procedures. In earlier eras, a woman arriving at the hospital to give birth was given an enema and a trim (down there). Ask if these are still routine procedures where you’ll be delivering. They likely won’t be, but it’s better to know so there’s no surprise on labor day!
Pain management. Is your strategy “Get an epidural ASAP!” or do you want to avoid pain medications if possible? What pain management techniques will you use?
Monitoring. Many hospitals use constant electronic fetal monitoring, but if you don’t want to be bedridden, intermittent monitoring may be an option.
Episiotomies and assisted birth. If your baby is being bashful, your caregiver may wish to perform an episiotomy—an incision between the vagina and anus—or use forceps or vacuum extraction. Discuss the pros and cons of each in advance.
C-section. In what circumstances would you want a Ce-
70 | Oh BABY!
sarean to be performed? Does five hours of pushing grant a ticket to the OR or is your baby’s distress the only call for surgery? Discuss this with your physician.
Photos and videos. Do you wish to document every moment from the first twinge through baby’s first bath, or hold the flashbulbs until all are clean and content? Crowning. Some non squeamish mothers request to have a mirror positioned so they can see the baby crown (when his head first appears) or even reach down and touch his tiny noggin.
Cutting the cord. Indicate when you’d like baby’s umbilical cord to be clamped, and specify whether daddy wants to take part in the snipping ritual. Post Birth. “After a vaginal delivery, your delivery facility may practice placing baby immediately on your chest, known as skin-to-skin. This promotes bonding and successful breast feeding.” For a C-section, indicate who should bond with your baby while you recover. Nursing. It is recommended to start breastfeeding right away; you can also ask the hospital staff not to offer baby a bottle or pacifier, which could interfere with nursing.
Additional info. Mention factors that may affect your delivery, like if you’re blind as a bat without glasses, have gestational diabetes, or wish to bank baby’s cord blood. Don’t forget. While creating a birth plan is a great idea, don’t get so attached to it that you won’t allow any flexibility in the delivery room. Birth is different for every woman, every time, so no matter how much you plan there’s a good chance things won’t go exactly the way you envisioned them. Remember to expect the unexpected!