We Need a Birth Plan
What's to Plan for Delivery?
Every successful endeavor begins with a plan. While a woman cannot plot out or plan her labor and birth, she can give some structure to the events by determining some of the things she'd like to have during that time. This is not a duties list for the staff at the hospital or for the doula, doctors or anyone. Rather, this is a list of preferences which will help everyone coming in contact with her to know something about her, how she's prepared for the baby and what she expects. A birth plan is not a binding agreement - it's a guideline and will be especially helpful should there be a doctor-on-call at the hospital with whom she is not familiar. A well thought-out birthing plan can help the medical staff to know the goals and wishes of the woman and her partner, enabling the staff to make the experience as close to expectation as possible.
What's In a Birth
A birth plan typically covers major areas of procedure and then includes details for options. One of the primary areas concerns wishes during a normal labor and delivery. This would include everything from the type of pain relief desired - or not desired - all the way to enemas and fetal monitoring. The environment in which a woman wants to birth her baby comes under this heading. What kind of atmosphere is desired? Will there be music playing softly in the room? Is there a hot tub or something there to eat or drink? How many people will be in the room during labor and delivery? Many hospitals and birthing centers allow women options and choices about atmosphere for birthing their baby.
The Way It Used To Be
Today there is more flexibility in labor and delivery procedures in many hospitals. Enemas used to be routinely done to clean out the bowels before delivery. Now a woman can choose to either do one herself or not have one at all. Inducing labor is done more judiciously now, allowing a woman to go a little longer or to have other options for help in moving things along. Shaving, which was standard procedure in all births, is now a thing of the past.
Pain management is an important item to address and something a woman has a lot of control over. Sometimes labor happens and progresses so quickly that there is no time for an epidural. Or, a woman changes her mind a couple of times during the process and it becomes too late to administer pain medication. It is appropriate to be aware of the alternative forms of pain relief, including massage, relaxation, breathing and hot tubs and to make the health care provider aware of alternative choices.
Questions such as whether the partner will cut the umbilical cord and whether the baby will be placed on the stomach immediately after birth are also considerations for the birth plan. Breastfeeding issues, such as whether the baby will go to the breast immediately or be bottle-fed are included as well.
So many things to think about! That's why it is a good idea to start writing the birth plan long before the birth.