When I had my first child, I thought I was TOTALLY prepared for what’s to come. I did everything I could to keep myself healthy, took my vitamins on time, never missed my prenatal check ups and watched as many child birth videos, in all forms I could – vaginal, c-section and even water birth. I knew that anything can happen when it’s time to deliver my baby and I can’t be sure if I was going to have a spontaneous normal delivery or a C-section but I just know that whatever happens, I have to be ready physically, mentally and emotionally.
At around 30 weeks in my first pregnancy I had started buying clothes and gears for my little munchkin. That’s the fun part, isn’t it? baby bottles – check! cute little socks and mittens – check! diapers – check! bibs – check! crib & sheets – check! Little did I know that birth preparation means so much more than hauling all the baby stuff I could manage to afford and that getting my maternity bag ready to grab by the door is not the only thing a truly prepared mother (and husband) does.
So what is it that I missed, you might ask? I missed to create the most important part of it all.
A BIRTH PLAN.
I was young and a little naive then, content with what my doctor tells me to do and believed whole-heartedly that she had my best interest in mind. Now, don’t get me wrong – and I mean no disrespect for her (or for doctors in general) I know that she had the best intentions given my situation at the time, but knowing what I know now, I felt like my first birth experience could have been better if only I had a little more support from her. I could have been more prepared if I knew what my options and my chances were.
I’m not going to talk about that experience for now, I will save it for another post but today I wanted to talk about what a birth plan is and how it works.
So, a good birth plan should have an entire list of all your requests – your wants and needs, in other words you express here how you want the show to run, come D-day. In it you will write all the things that you would like to happen and the experience you want to have as soon as you get admitted in your preferred hospital, your preferences during labor and delivery and how you want your doctors and the entire medical team to handle you and your baby.
More importantly, a birth plan is very helpful for those who have “special requests” in matters such as refusing to vaccinate the baby, delayed cord clamping and cutting, or if you want to strictly breastfeed your baby, whether you want an episiotomy, an epidural or how you want to manage labor pains – you can communicate all of these requests in it and it then serve as a guide for your medical team to follow, as approved by your doctor, of course.
The plan is going to be attached in your medical record together with your doctor’s order which will be handed out to you by your doctor when you are almost due. I suggest that you make multiple copies of your birth plan so you have a backup in place in case you lose it or if it accidentally gets ruined. And when you are in the hospital, you or your partner can pull out a copy to show to anyone that enters your room just TO BE SURE they are on the same page with you.
Creating this plan should be done with your partner or your birth coach – may it be your husband, a friend, parent or a doula if you have one. Basically, anyone who is going to be at the hospital with you during labor and delivery. Remember, it’s a plan – so you both have to agree on this and also discuss what alternatives to follow in case things don’t go as planned. Your partner should be able to advocate for you and more importantly, MUST have a STRONG WILL to carry out this plan because, when shit hits the fan (a.k.a you start going through labor, lol!) – I bet you won’t care what is happening around you anymore, which could mean your plan is bound for failure. Trust me, I know how it is. haha!
Now once a birth plan is established, what’s next?
You discuss it with your doctors, and that includes your Obstetrician and your preferred Pediatrician. I know many first time mothers didn’t think of choosing their Pediatrician until after the baby is born but I have to stress that it is equally important as choosing your Obstetrician when you first find out you are pregnant. When you start creating a plan you will pretty much have a general idea how you want your baby to be handled when it is born and you want somebody you know you can trust, somebody who will support you, somebody who will allow you to make an informed decision about what is best for you and your baby.
So early in your pregnancy, you should list a few options for an Obstetrician and Pediatrician, and when you have finalized your birth plan, show it to each one of them and see how they react based on what you presented, don’t be afraid to ask questions, get their comments and write them down. By the end of this process you should be able to eliminate doctors from your list and narrow down on the ONE that’s a right match for you.
Congratulations! Now you know how important a birth plan is, how it works and what you and your partner needs to do. And you have a lot ahead of you so you should get started now! However, please understand that a birth plan is just what it is – a PLAN. Your doctor may or may not approve all of it – that’s why an open discussion on each matter is crucial. Be honest with your doctor – lay out your intentions but also listen and consider what they say. Take their advise, and then do some more research. Maybe you can find an alternative option that your doctor can consider or maybe you can find a different doctor who’s willing to support you. I wish you the best of luck 🙂
If you want to get started with creating your birth plan, I have made one that’s easy, fill in the blank format and you can download the printable copy here for FREE!
(scroll down to the very bottom of this page)
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