Have a birth plan, but remember that it’s okay to chuck it out the window.
Having a plan is always a good thing. But being able to deviate from said plan as circumstances necessitate is your first real step into parenthood: things don’t always go the way you plan, especially when there’s a kid in the mix. You have to be flexible, and you have to be flexible without flipping out or beating yourself up.
Didn’t plan on having that emergency c-section? No problem as long as the end goal is met: healthy baby, healthy mom.
Swore you’d go completely natural, yet begged for an epidural at 3cm? No problem: healthy baby, healthy mom.
I didn’t have a Birth Plan at all with J, and that was probably the right thing for me at the time. But now that I’m more secure and confident in my role as a mom, there are some things that I’ll do differently next time. I will have a plan, but it will be very minimal.
I imagine my plan will look something like this:
First Stage Labor
I’d like to be free to walk around and go to the bathroom on my own, so I’ll wait on the epidural for awhile. But those drugs that make a me feel a little stoned and a lot happy? Hit me up with those. I’ll go for as long as I can without them because I know that one hit is all I get, but when I’m ready for them, I’d like you to be on standby with the IV in one hand and a margarita in the other. Thanks.
That said, go ahead and keep the pitocin to yourself. Unless we’re in a situation where the health of my baby is at risk, I’d rather my body did the work in its own time.
And as far as the snacks go? I don’t buy your crap about no food during labor. Hunger pains during my first childbirth were as bad as the friggin’ labor pains. Not this time. I’ll have healthy snacks and water, as my body will need the energy for childbirth.
Second Stage Labor
The one thing that makes me a little agitated when I look back on J’s birth is that I knew when I was ready to push, yet my nurse wouldn’t listen to me. She kept telling me there was no way I was at 10 cm and I had to finally insist for her to check because I knew I was. Next time, I’ll be more vocal and confident in my body.
Third Stage Labor
This is the one that’s important to me. This is the one that I wish I had had the confidence to have before (Thanks, Carly, for sharing your plan with me so that I could tweak it to make it my own).
- The baby is to be placed on my chest immediately after birth.
- Please delay cord-clamping if possible until cord has stopped pulsating and placental transfusion has completed.
- Bo would like to cut the umbilical cord.
- Please delay routine procedures (weight, length, PKU, and other assessments and routines that cannot be performed without leaving our baby with his/her mother) until we have had at least one hour to bond with our baby, allowing him/her to breastfeed without interruption.
- If our baby needs temperature regulation, we would like to try skin-to-skin contact with baby and mother before a machine is used.
- Our feeding preference is to breastfeed: please do not offer formula.
- Bo would like to assist with the first bath.
- We may request that no eye ointment is used. This is something I will discuss with my doctor and pediatrician before birth.
I just didn’t realize that I had an option on many of these things. I was new at the whole childbirth thing. I don’t necessarily consider myself a pro at it now, but I do have more confidence in myself and I do know more about what I would like for my child. And that makes all the difference.
My advice is to know what you want for you and your baby going into it. Read books, talk to other moms, discuss is with your doctor and with your partner. Imagine your ideal birth and work toward it. But don’t be inflexible. Understand that that, while it’s natural, giving birth isn’t necessarily easy. If it’s your first pregnancy, you really have no idea how you’ll feel once you’re actually in the moment. And if it’s your 4th pregnancy–well, every pregnancy and labor is different. So just go with it. There are many different ways to reach the end goal we discussed earlier, and none of them are wrong.