When it comes to having a baby there are often things that you don’t even think of having an opinion about. That’s where it comes in handy to write up a birth plan ahead of time so that everything you want to happen, has the best chance of happening and you have less to think about right in the moment of labor and delivery.
What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is basically a way for you to let your care providers know what your wishes are for your labor, delivery and post delivery experience. It’s a way to tell them what your ideal experience is, your back up options, and what you want to avoid. Although I didn’t have one with our first birth since it was a scheduled induction, I have become much more opinionated since then and want to make sure that my preferences are heard by those that will be caring for us in case I am either unable to, or forget to voice myself in the moment.
What should you include in your birth plan?
Laboring: With our first, I was basically put into a hospital bed in the standard semi-reclined position. Although I was there for hours before even getting an epidural, they did not want me to get out of bed, walk around or anything else. It actually made for a more painful experience I believe since our bodies aren’t really made to deliver in that position, but it has instead been adopted as a means of convenience for the doctor or midwife delivering. That being said, be sure to note how you would like to labor.
Pain: This is where you’ll want to spell out what pain relief methods you prefer to use as well as which ones you want to avoid. If you’re aiming for a natural birth, specify which pain relieving methods you wouldn’t want to use, such as an epidural. You can also list which order you would like to try things such as using a birthing ball, tub, shower, or massage before leaping to the epidural or other medications. If, on the other hand, you know you want the epidural, mention that as well.
After Delivery: A few things that you may not even think about include how long to wait before clamping the cord, do you want your partner to cut it, and how do you want to deliver the placenta. I know, at this point you’ve got you’re precious little bundle, but these can be important details whether you realize it or not.
Feeding: Are you planning to breastfeed or bottle feed? Do you want to try breastfeeding uninterrupted and several times over the course of the first few hours or do you know that you would like immediate assistance from a lactation consultant. This is one thing that is really important to me because I didn’t get any support in this area when we had Natalia and it led to me having to pump exclusively for 7 months until I stopped producing. Anyone who has exclusively pumped can tell you what kind of special hell that is, but it was important to give my daughter the best start that I could with breast milk so I stuck it out.
Also, take a moment to think about things you know that you do not want. These things might include not giving your baby bottles or formula (if you’re choosing to breastfeed), whether to give your baby a pacifier, how you feel about vaccinations, eye drops, and circumcision issues for boys.
Keep it short: If someone handed you a 3 page, single spaced document how likely are you to really read it? Probably a lot less likely than if that same paper was one or two pages with short phrases and to the point? My birth plan is 2 pages and is bulleted. 😉
Be Flexible: There’s no way to guarantee that your birth will go 100% as you have always hoped and dreamed for. Sometimes things happen and in the event that you can’t stick to your birth plan word for word, remember that the ultimate goal is a healthy mother and a healthy baby. Just keeping relaxed can ultimately help your birth run smoother in most cases.
Here’s the birth plan I wrote up, in case you want a peek at what’s important to us and how simple you can keep it.
Our Tentative Birth Plan
For Pain Relief I’d like to use:
I’m not interested in:
Immediately after delivery I would like:
In the event of a C-Section I would like:
Please do not give baby:
It’s official, I’m 34 weeks & 3 days along on this pregnancy and I have no idea how in the heck time has flown by so quickly. I really do feel like it was only a month or so ago that I was seeing those two little pink lines on my pregnancy test. I think it’s gone by so fast because I have Natalia to constantly keep me busy and I don’t always have time to just sit and enjoy every little kick and movement or to dwell on what part of my body is currently aching. It’s also a little scary thinking that in an estimated 6 weeks, we’ll have another little baby in our home to love and care for. Okay, so maybe the scary part is the whole going into labor and actually birthing her part just before the lovey dovey stuff takes place.
Either way, pretty soon our little family of three will become a family of four, and that’s pretty cool.
I haven’t been writing too much in the Baby Bump Journals because in all honesty, it gets a little boring at this point. Baby is mostly just getting bigger and putting on fat and I know none of you want to read week after week about my increasing number of trips to pee or how I got yet another night of cruddy sleep.
I’ve really been thinking more and more about how labor will go. I want to approach it from the most calm point that I can. I’m a super huge wimp when it comes to things like needles and pain. Going through two pregnancies now, I think I’ll do a lot better with at least the needles part of it since I’ve gotten poked, prodded and had quite a few blood draws at this point. The pain is what freaks me out the most. I understand that birth is one of the most natural things that you body is made to do and that I have to have confidence in my body that it knows what it’s doing.
Guess what really happens though? The pain begins and I start getting extremely nauseous. The nausea and pain build on each other and it becomes something that I’m not really in control of. Hence, why I ended up with an epidural the first time around. I was able to relax, which controlled the nausea (& blood pressure issues that came because of that) and even took a nap only to wake up and be almost crowning.
I’ve been looking for ways to help get through the laboring pains for as long as I possibly can. If I end up getting an epidural, then so be it, and I hope I wouldn’t be judged for it. Ideally, I’d like not to but I’m not going to keep it from being an option either and really the end result of a healthy baby and mama are the most important aspects, right? I’ve got an exercise ball that I plan to take, mostly because it’s much more comfortable for me than constantly laying or sitting in a chair. I still need to look more into specific exercises or stretches on it that are beneficial, but I think even just upping the level of comfort helps to ease the labor pains to a degree. I’ve also read that laboring in the shower or a tub can help tremendously. I think I will go for the shower because it will be easier to get in and out and I can have a constant supply of hot water rather than sitting in a tub as it cools off.
Also, I’ll be packing our hospital bag in the next week or two so stay tuned for what essentials will make our list!
What are some things that have helped you get through labor?
Whenever anyone in my family (myself included) is sick or in need of medical care, I always reach for natural solutions first. I feel so much better when we put natural, usually plant-based medicinals into our bodies rather than those that were concocted in a science lab. While I’m not opposed to using modern medicine in certain circumstances, I think that most of the mainstream drugs on the market should be reserved for very specific circumstances. I also think our bodies are already pretty amazing at healing themselves for the most part!
I am especially keen on choosing natural solutions while I am pregnant. I want to limit my children’s exposure to toxins and keep their eco-footprint low – especially before they are even born! I have had two pretty breezy pregnancies. Here are a few of the herbs I used during each that were particularly helpful!
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Red Raspberry Leaf tea is recommended almost universally by doulas and midwives for strengthening the uterus and promoting a strong milk supply postpartum. I did not drink red raspberry leaf tea during my first pregnancy and I wish I had because I ended up delivering my son via vacuum assistance. He is fine, but of course an unassisted delivery would have been great!
During my second pregnancy, I drank at least a cup of the tea throughout my third trimester – often 2-3 cups throughout the day. My labor and delivery with my second son was a complete breeze – I cannot think of anything that could have gone better (except maybe not being in labor at my sister-in-law’s wedding, but that’s another story!). My active labor was quite short, only 6-7 hours and I literally pushed 3 or 4 times before he was born.
Evening Primrose Oil
Another reason I believe my second son’s delivery went so quickly is because I began using evening primrose oil at 37 weeks orally. Evening primrose oil is helpful for softening the cervix to prepare for labor. You can also insert it vaginally as well to help soften the cervix, too.
Ginger tea is effective for alleviating nausea making it wonderful during the morning sickness months – you can enjoy it hot or cold depending on the weather. There were a few weeks during my pregnancies where I would live on ginger tea and banana chips!
Peppermint is also helpful for treating morning sickness. I just kept a bottle of peppermint oil in my bag and inhaled the scent when I was feeling nauseous but in hindsight that was probably a little overkill. The fresh herb in a sachet would probably be just as effective without being so powerful. This method has also been helpful for me when I’ve had a headache, too!
Pregnancy is so weird – at times you can be so dead tired for weeks and weeks on end, while other weeks you’re bursting with energy and can hardly sit still. When I was having trouble calming my thoughts and nerves, chamomile tea would help me relax. If you are in an uncomfortable stage of your pregnancy where it’s hard to sleep, chamomile tea can be helpful as well!
I would like to add that both of my pregnancies were completely low risk and straightforward, so I encourage any mom to do plenty of research when it comes to her and her baby’s health, especially if there are complications or anything present.
That said, I also think that most of our health issues can be solved in natural ways. Herbs can be wonderfully effective! What natural remedies have you found helpful?
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