Things to Consider When Creating Your Birth Plan
I am currently 30 weeks pregnant and in truth, even though the complications I've been having, I have not sat down and created my birth plan. Truth be told, I completely forgot about it. I had created one for Sebastian and will be birthing baby #2 at the same hospital so I have a little insight as to what it will be like already, but it's always good to visualize what I want this time around and write it down. It is also a good stepping stone for talking with my provider about my wishes and what they can accommodate. With Sebastian, my entire plan was basically thrown out the window. Even though I had a provision in there in case I should need a C-section, hospital policies and my not being mentally prepared for what happened really through a huge wrench into the whole plan. Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your birth plan and a few things I learned from my experience with Sebastian's birth.
Plan for the unexpected and be mentally prepared for all possibilities. The majority of us want that peaceful, kumbaya experience when it comes to birthing our kids, but in truth, very little women will get what they want. Whether it's because of complications or hospital procedures they didn't consider, whatever the case may be, you have to consider all outcomes and be truly mentally prepared for what is to come.
With Sebastian, I was totally against a C-section. I did not want one and tried to do everything within my power to make sure that I didn't get one. I knew there was a chance somewhere in the back of my mind, but mentally, I was not going to have one. Lo and behold, he was breech and my water broke before I could even consider any interventions and I ended up having one. I was terrified of what was to come and am still completely unhappy about the outcome because I felt robbed of my experience. I didn't get to feel what it was like to have the intense contractions or have the whole laboring experience that I actually wanted, and then I was basically thrown into a recovery room for 2 hours without my son and wanting desperately to bond and breastfeed him. Every time a new family member or a nurse came to see me in recovery, that's the one thing I asked for: where's my son, can someone give me my son!? I hated that. I hated being separated from the child I had just given life to.
For this pregnancy, I am going to talk to my doctor and I will also talk to the nurses at the hospital (since I see them every 2 weeks anyways for my fetal fibronectins) about this in case I end up with a repeat section to find out what can be done to make sure I can bond with my daughter right away, even while in recovery.
Find out what your facilities procedures are. This one doesn't apply to home birthing mama's (you guys are awesome and I wish I could do what you do!) but for mama's birthing at a birth center or hospital, this is really important because you don't want to plan for things to occur one way and then the hospital procedures are inflexible and completely different. Talk to your doctors/midwives and visit your labor center to find out what rules they have in place. Planning for a facility tour may also help answer many of the questions you may have or may not have even thought of.
Talk to your provider about your wishes. Make sure your needs/wants are aligned with how your provider works. Personally, I'm in a bit of a precarious situation because I'm going for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and there aren't many providers in my area that perform these. I did find a group that I am happy with, but they do have certain limitations in place as to what I can or cannot do while in labor. Make sure all these details are hashed out ahead of time. I started asking questions about this at my first appointment so I could give myself plenty of time to be mentally prepared and start visualizing what labor will look like for me. In starting to write my birth plan, I've kept all this in mind and in going through some references, I've also found some new questions I would like answered.
There are a few sites that offer worksheets to help you work out your birth plan. The two that I like are from The Bump and Earth Mama because they are pretty comprehensive. While writing out my birth plan, I forget things, and these two sites have helped me remember certain things that I need to consider and that are important to me. These worksheets will also help to start a conversation with your provider about things you would like to know. Personally, I'll be printing out one of these worksheets for my next Ob appointment so I can make notes and have a birth plan ready for the following appointment since I don't know when I will actually go into labor, and unfortunately, with my risk of preterm labor, it can happen early for me.
Keep it short and to the point. When you actually write your birth plan, keep it short. Using bullet points that can easily be glanced over is the best way to go. You don't want to make the nurses or your providers read a thesis in order to know what you want your wishes are. Make your plan so that it's easy to find the information they need quickly or you risk the possibility that it will be ignored.
The most important thing to remember is to talk to your provider. You need to be in sync with them all the way because if they don't know your wishes, how can they accommodate them, and they will be the ones speaking for you at your facility. Make sure they understand the kind of birth experience you want and that you can come to a compromise over certain things. At the very least, you can either prepare yourself for something you don't want or you can start searching for another provider if something is a deal breaker for you.
Do you have any other tips that I have not considered here? Since I'm in the middle of writing mine right now all input will be greatly appreciated.