You wouldn’t dream of taking a trip or preparing for a big event without a plan. Why should giving birth be any different? Many expectant mothers aren’t familiar with the concept of a birth plan, but having one will put you in the driver’s seat and allow you to have your baby on your terms.
Your birth plan will not only make you feel more prepared for your labor – it will also act as a guide for your partner, doctors, and anyone else who may be taking care of you during your delivery. Having a written plan could end up being crucial in the case of an emergency. So grab a pen and paper, and ask yourself the following questions that form the backbone of every birth plan
- Where do you want to give birth? A hospital, your home, or a birthing center, which is something in between the two? Include a backup plan as well – if an emergency should arise, you’ll need to have a plan of action for how to handle the complication.
- How do you feel about oxytocin (Pitocin)? Do you want to avoid drugs at all cost? What are your feelings about the induction of labor? Write it all down since you may not be able to verbally respond to your caregivers in the heat of the moment.
- How do you feel about a Cesarean section? Most women aren’t thrilled about the idea, but how strongly do you feel about it? Are you prepared to have a C-section if your life or your baby’s life is at stake?
- How long are you comfortable waiting during labor? Doctors usually expect the cervix to dilate at 1 cm/hour before they attempt to speed things along. But if you want, you can choose to wait longer assuming everything is safe. You’re absolutely allowed to have your baby on your own timetable if the baby is okay, so write down specifically how long you want to wait before doctors induce labor.
Ironically, part of the reason to have a birth plan is so that you’ll be better prepared to deviate from it. And deviations could be necessary for all sorts of reason, including bleeding, evidence of fever or infection, a prolapsed umbilical cord, your cervix not dilating properly, or your baby going into the breech position. If you have a birth plan that allows for all the possible problems and challenges of labor, you and your caregivers will be able to make important decisions with greater speed and efficiency. Having a plan could end up saving your life or your baby’s.
If you have any pregnancy questions or want more info about designing a birth plan, feel free to email me.
I look forward to helping you Quiet the Fears of Pregnancy and help you have a healthy pregnancy and delivery of your baby.
Mark Zakowski, M.D.
The Safe Baby System