Use this special section to explore birth options, write down questions, take notes in childbirth class, and ease your journey through labour to your wonderful new baby.
No one can predict exactly what your baby's birth will be like. You probably have some idea of what you hope will happen and may have talked to your doctor or midwife. But one of the best ways to learn about labor and birth-and let others know about your thoughts-is to write a birth plan. "A birth plan is a way for a patient to communicate to the healthcare provider what she envisions her birth experience will be like so she can have some input on the management of their labor," says Lynn Hoag, a nurse midwife at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
Women have more birth options today than ever before. Some women want children to be as quick and painful as possible. On the other end of the spectrum are women who want naturally evolving labor with minimum medical involvement. Be aware that the choices you make early can affect what happens later. For example, getting pain medication (which can slow down labor) can result in your need to have pitocin (because labor is too slow), which could require internal monitoring (for which-if it hasn't happened already-your bag of waters will need to be broken).
Your doctor of midwife may use birth plans routinely or hardly ever. They're more common in some places than others. You may want to begin the discussion by talking about a few issues at a time during your regular checkups. Your practitioner will also be able to tell you about what options your hospital or birth center offers. (This article has some of the possible options.)
Paying attention to how you phrase the plan can be very helpful. A list of preference works better than confronting your health care team with options you don't want. Another way of saying, "I don't want to have any pain in labor," is to state, "When I get uncomfortable, I would like an epidural as soon as possible". If there are several practitioners in the practice, show your birth plan to all of them.
Ask your practitioner about how to share your plan with the nurses and possible anesthesiologist at the birth. If it's written you may want to bring copies.
Remember that your birth plan expresses your ideal scenario. It's important to remain flexible for your health and your baby's. Your individual labor and delivery may require last minute adjustments. You might want-and benefit from-medical help you thought you might not need.
Click here to view the chart of birth options, and choose the ones you are most interested in and would like to discuss with your doctor.