There seems to be two schools of thought regarding birth plans: 1) They're essential! and 2) They're stupid, just go have a baby. I fell somewhere in the middle. I knew writing a plan did not guarantee anything would go the way I envisioned, but the act of thinking through and writing one was very therapeutic for me. We talked through several things with our doula and drafted a document we called "Our Birth Preferences." We shared it with my doctor before the birth, and we gave it to the hospital staff when we arrived.
And yes, most of it went out the window when the real thing happened. The furthest thing from my mind was what was on that paper. But because I had given so much thought to those things, I felt empowered to make my own (educated and thoughtful) decisions. Plus, I think it established for the hospital staff that we were in charge of this experience. We needed and wanted their help, but we were not going to be passive participants in what was happening. I think that made a difference.
So in case anyone is interested, here's what Our Birth Preferences looked like:
Who will be in the room during labor and delivery:
- During labor: Mike, Shannon’s mom, Jen (doula), possibly other family
- During delivery: Mike, Shannon’s mom, Jen, required hospital staff only (no residents, students)
Hospital admission and procedures:
- Upon arrival, I would like Mike to stay with me at all times.
- I would like to be able to eat and drink as I feel necessary.
Atmosphere and location:
- I would like:
- to be as mobile as possible: walk, move around, and change positions as needed.
- easy access to labor props as needed: birthing ball, birthing stool, squat bar, etc.
- to wear my own clothes during labor, possibly changing into a hospital gown for delivery.
- as much privacy as possible, with access to hospital staff as needed.
- others to be able to take photos during labor and delivery, as well as video during labor.
Medicines and procedures:
- I would like:
- to use intermittent fetal monitoring rather than constant fetal monitoring.
- to experience labor before making any decisions about medicinal pain relief. I am aware of the options and will request them as needed.
- to try alternative methods to pain relief before turning to medicine.
- to limit the number of vaginal exams to only those that are necessary.
- to avoid an IV unless it becomes necessary for safety or requested medicine.
- to progress free of stringent time limits and have labor augmented only if necessary.
- to try natural forms of labor augmentation before medical interventions
- to try to avoid amniotomy to induce labor.
- to absolutely avoid an episiotomy.
- to avoid a c-section unless it is necessary for the health and safety of myself or the baby.
- If a c-section becomes necessary, I would like:
- to have Mike in the OR with me.
- to see our baby as soon as possible upon delivery.
- to delay cord clamping.
- immediate skin to skin contact and no separation from the baby.
- I would like:
- the freedom to try alternative birthing positions as I feel necessary.
- the freedom to trust my body’s signs regarding pushing
- I would like:
- immediate skin to skin contact at birth.
- as much to be done to the baby (cleaning, etc) while I hold him/her.
- to delay cord clamping until the cord has stopped pulsating.
- my mom to be able to cut the cord.
- to postpone the Hepatitis B vaccine until a later date.
- to forego prophylactic eye ointment.
- to try to begin breast feeding as soon as possible.
- all necessary newborn procedures to take place in our presence.
- for Mike to be able to stay with the baby at all times, even when I cannot be there.
- 24-hour rooming-in with the baby unless otherwise requested.
- to avoid supplementing breastfeeding with formula, water and use of pacifiers.
- to forego circumcision should the baby be a boy.
Things that didn't go as "planned"?
- More people in the room. My sister Kelli came in after I got an epidural and stayed through the delivery. There was a resident AND a student that were in and out, and both were present for the delivery. I cared not one little bit. (They asked permission before allowing the resident and student in.)
- I wanted nothing to do with food or drink.
- I had no interest in walking or moving around. I have heard of women who like to walk the halls while laboring, but my labor was, apparently, nothing like theirs. Walking was out of the question. Pretty much anything was out of the question except screaming and writhing in pain.
- Wear my own clothes? Um, I was naked almost the whole time. But I'm glad I included this because hospital gowns trigger my claustrophobia for some reason, and the few minutes I did have one on (right after the bath tub), I hated it.
- When I made the decision to get an epidural, I gave up the ability to have only intermittent fetal monitoring. At that point, that was OK.
- I got an IV right away because I wanted to try pain meds before an epidural. (They did NOTHING by the way.)
I think, if I'm ever so lucky to have another child, I would go in with similar preferences. And the same understanding that things happen the way they happen despite the best planning.
Obligatory Mo photos!