Thursday, February 19, 2015

Creating a Birth Plan (birth preferences)

I am sure most of you have heard about, or written your own birth plan. Most women choose to write one so they don't have to stress about anyone not knowing what kind of birth they want, or telling it to each individual person or care provider they encounter. It is best if this is actually called birth preferences, because we can't 'plan' a birth, but we can have preferences. In the moment, we end up having to listen to our bodies, and birth the way we feel is necessary in the moment. I think that it is also important to call it 'preferences' over 'plans' because that allows us to be more open and prepared to birth the way we need to when the time comes.

 Having the birth that you do not want, or do not plan for, can be very damaging to women. It can cause many women to feel disappointment, guilt, anger, and extreme sadness for years. I find this to be so heartbreaking.

What I do have to point out is that sometimes, unfortunately, women have traumatic birth experiences, and it should not have been that way. Their birth is stolen from them. Although I was planning a home birth with Amelia, I knew that I could not handle any of these things happening to me. So I wrote up my birth preferences for my home birth, and a back up birth preferences list in case I ended up needed a transfer to the hospital.

I was a bit stressed about having a bad experience. It makes me pretty sad to look back and realize this. I know that it is because so many first time mothers end up having the opposite birth they want, or being told they "have to" do something or "cannot do" something else. Even though I had really educated myself, and was not even leaving my own home to birth, there was something inside of me that just knew I needed to avoid this happening to me no matter what. 

That is why I wanted to share how to create your own birth preferences, and why it is important to do so.

1. Decide where you want to birth.
Your reasons are your own, and this decision is solely yours. No one can make it for you, and no one should judge you for it either. Some of the looks, and remarks, I received about birthing at home really offended me. Being in a hormonal pregnant state, I didn't need to hear others opinions. This is such a personal decision, don't let anyone else factor in here. Having said that, support is always nice to have. Especially from your significant other. I was very happy that my husband was so supportive of my goal to have a home birth. Even though he was nervous about it, he is so happy with the birth as well!
This is also where you will need to decide what kind of care provider you want, if you haven't already. Some women think that they cannot change providers once they are further along in pregnancy, but you can change whenever you want if you are unhappy!

2. Choosing a method/practice.
Hypnobirthing, bypnobabies, Bradly, whatever you choose, just do your research. Not one method will fit every woman, or every birth, or every pregnancy. I chose hypnobirthing, and it was the perfect fit for me. I loved it so much. I knew that it was the right choice for me after a lot of reading, and realizing how similar it was to yoga.

3. Decide who (if anyone) you want to attend your birth.
This includes anyone allowed throughout labor, as well as anyone in the room as you are actually giving birth, and afterward. Basically, this is where you decide on all visitors and outsiders. For those birthing in a hospital, you need to know how many they will allow in the room. For me, I knew that I wanted no one other than my midwives and my husband. It wasn't even a thought for me. I would also like to add here that you should not be made to feel bad or guilty about who you choose, or choose not to have. Birth is so sacred and so private.

4. Interventions during labor.
This includes the epidural. Please do your research here! Especially if you choose a hospital birth, as there are so many choices to be made. Yes, choices, don't allow anyone to tell you otherwise. Few times is something going to be life or death, and no longer an option. For most births, it is all your choice, even if someone claims "you HAVE to" do or have something.

There are so many interventions in birth, and you need to be aware of each and every one. You don't want to have something you did not know about happen, and be upset about it later because you didn't know.

Here is a list of common interventions in a traditional birth setting:
  • vaginal checks
  • epidural
  • IV
  • induction
  • no eating or drinking 
  • staying in the bed (most of the time on your back)
  • fetal monitoring
  • wearing a hospital gown
  • artificially rupturing water
  • episiotomy
  • vacuum extractor/forceps
5. Language.
It might sound strange to some, but this is something really important that most of us never think about beforehand. Typically the terms 'contraction' and 'pain' are used a lot by care providers. Some women do not like those words, and prefer 'surge' or 'pressure' or 'waves' over 'contraction.' We called them surges most of the time, but the other words did not bother me either. However, I did not want pain brought up. I did not want to place pain on a level, or even be asked to think about pain. In my opinion, I felt it would make it impossible to practice hypnosis if I was constantly being reminded of pain. A lot of women having natural births are not okay with rating pain or the word even being said.

6. Atmosphere.
Sit down and envision your perfect birthing place. Then write it down. It is that simple! We did this in our private hypnobirthing class, and drew a picture of it. I think that is a great exercise. Mine was in my bedroom, in the birthing tub, with my husband, and some candles. It doesn't even need to be specific. Say you would like the lights dimmed, and hushed voices, or maybe you want music playing and candles (if you are having a hospital birth, be sure to get some flame-less candles!).

7. Baby.
Here is where you will list all your preferences for your baby after he/she is born! These are some of the first choices you will be making for your baby, so make educated choices!
Some of the things you will need to decide include:
  • vitamin K shot 
  • will baby be bathed or rubbed down?
  • when baby can be weighed, measured, etc.
  • skin to skin contact
  • breastfeeding?
  • if baby will be taken from mom/dad (nursery) 
  • when to clamp the babies cord (delayed cord clamping)

There is so much to consider when writing your birth preferences. My best advice is to do your research on every aspect of birth, and make educated choices! There are also a lot of samples out there that are super helpful when writing your birth plan/preferences. 

xo,
Chelsea

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