As my 37th week approached, I decided to crack down and finalize my preferences for my birthing time, and be able to discuss these preferences with Ashton so he knows what I am thinking before we are rushing off to the hospital together. We made a rough list of things that I knew I definitely wanted and didn't want. After a little research I decided to finalize my preferences and create an actual birth plan. I never realized how many details there are to be mindful of regarding birth, until I decided to sit down and map out my own birth plan. I use the term "birth plan" pretty loosely, and should really use the term "birth preferences", simply because we all know my little one on the way is going to be the
star of the experience and she will most likely determine how she
enters the world, regardless of what I plan. For that reason, not every mum chooses to create a birth plan, but I think there are also a lot of really great reasons to consider it!
Why did I create a birth plan?
I feel that a birth plan:
- empowers me to envision how I expect my birthing time to play out, while also considering second options should it not go as expected.
- will remind me of choices that I made with a clear mind, so I don't have to think about them during intense labor.
- allowed me to discuss important decisions with Ashton so he can be prepared and know how to advocate for me during my birthing time.
- equips medical practitioners with guidelines to follow if I am unable to communicate them myself.
- decreases the chance for a misunderstanding or added stress during my birthing time.
- lets me consider many different kinds of birthing journeys that I may not have even known I had the option to experience.
- is giving me peace of mind during my last few weeks of pregnancy that I have done everything I can to prepare for the big day.
- enables me to remain involved and be as in control of my birthing experience as I would like to be.
I created my birth plan using a technique that I conjured up myself, rather than one I found on the web. I created a checklist document that includes a multitude of options for different situations (fetal monitoring, pain management, induction techniques, etc) and then checked off my preferences for each one. I then created a second document with a bulleted list of preferences from the checklist in the form of statements, separated into sections for labor, delivery, and postpartum. The end result is one document, my birth plan, that only includes the options that I chose and isn't bogged down with extra information. This way, my midwife, nurses, partner, etc., can easily see what my preferences are, since they are clearly explained the way I think is best understood and doesn't include the distraction of anything extra.
Just as a quick overview without all the personal information, here are just some of the requests that I included in my birth plan: the use of a birthing tub provided by the hospital, only my midwife and support people be present unless there is a medical need for a doctor--and no medical students, residents or interns allowed, as few cervical checks as possible, to not be offered an epidural or other medication for pain relief, to try natural methods of induction first before any medication (Pitocin) is offered, to not have an episiotomy, to be able to push spontaneously and not be rushed, to avoid vacuum suction or forceps to aid in delivery, to donate baby's cord blood--and in the event that staff are not available to collect a donation, we will wait until the cord stops pulsating for it to be cut, to have immediate skin-to-skin contact and that my baby and I be allowed bonding time before any procedures or exams be done, that my baby not be offered formula or a pacifier and that I will be exclusively breastfeeding, a lactation specialist to help with first time breastfeeding, etc.
I plan on giving a copy of my birth plan to my midwife before I show up at the hospital in labor. That is, bringing it along to my next prenatal appointment (or emailing her a copy if I forget to bring it!) so she knows what my preferences are and can plan accordingly on her end. I will also be sticking one in my hospital bag as a reference for the nurses or other medical staff that may assist in my birth.
I am so super excited that my little girl is almost here! Just 16 days until her estimated arrival. Writing out my birth plan (as well as setting up her nursery!) made things slightly more real for me, and I do feel more prepared. Next step.... packing my hospital bag! I'm going to have a baby so soon!!!