Pregnancy has it’s share of ups and downs throughout the nine months with possible issues such as morning sickness, sleepless nights and sciatica, but the immense joys that accompany the whole process are too many to mention and we know you can agree with that without hesitation. Whether it is just a few simple guidelines for pain management, or a step by step account of how you want every phase of the delivery to be handled, a birth plan can be a bonus.
Not all pregnant women care about a birth plan, to some it just isn’t all that important (the baby is coming no matter what), but no doubt about it, when you are in the throes of labor, it may be a helpful tool for your medical team to have in order to help you along this final stage of your pregnancy odyssey.
That being said, a birth plan is a noteworthy tool and a good way to familiarize yourself with all that can be considered during your precious one’s delivery - but let’s be realistic here, because for a good number of us nothing goes according to plan during delivery and every thought or desire you may have for your experience goes completely by the wayside.
Don’t let any deviation from the plan drive you to despair, or cause you to become disappointed in your experience. Keep it real; having a baby is an awesome triumph and ultimately, in the end welcoming a healthy child into your family is all that matters.
Nonetheless, in case you are someone who has your heart set on a carefully thought out account of do’s and don’ts, we’ve compiled a list of ways to help you accept and deal in the event that your birth plan that has gone out the window.
8 What is a Birth Plan?
To keep it plain and simple, a birth plan is a general guideline for your caregivers, outlining how you would like to see your baby’s exit from your womb, and entrance into the world take place.
You should include in the birth plan any fears and concerns that you may have, as well as a genuine, realistic view of the progression of labor and how you want it to happen.
Make it personal, and be sure to understand completely the instructions or guidelines you are writing down. To give one example, don’t state, “no epidural under any circumstance” unless you are knowledgeable on how the epidural works, and what it’s advantages and disadvantages are.
Just because you want something doesn't guarantee you're going to have it
Understand the reasons for your requests - and be realistic in the expectations of you and your partner. The birth plan is designed to reduce your anxieties about giving birth and to provide ground rules, to a certain extent, to your birthing team so they can work together with you for a happy and healthy labor.
Above all, remember that your medical team will follow the birth plan as closely as possible, but when the crunch time comes, and you may not be thinking as clearly as you thought you would, you must trust that they have your best interests, as well as the health of your baby at heart.
7 Homebirth Becomes a Hospital Birth
For some moms-to-be, giving birth at home is the number one desire on their documented birth plan.A home birth is important to those of us that want an atmosphere that we feel may be more quiet and private, with complete freedom over who attends the birth and how many people will be observing.
Au naturel, without any medical intervention is the the chosen scenario. You’ve rented the birthing pool and the heat packs are ready for when needed. Labor starts and you are overjoyed that you will soon be holding your precious babe.
In every respect, giving birth at home in your own surroundings may be in your plan because you feel as though the labor will be more memorable and that the labor will progress at a pure, spontaneous rate. Realistically though, things can go awry and together with you partner and midwife, the decision is made for you to go to the hospital.
It's better to be where medical professionals can help you if your home birth takes a bad turn
Yes, you have had to check your birthing expectations at the door and enter the hospital environment which is where you will ultimately deliver.
New plan: So, things have changed. Have no worries, you are now in the hospital and are there for a reason. Embrace the next step of your labor, even though the location you have always wanted may have changed. Your midwife and doula will still be with you. And remember, your baby will not love you any less for the alteration in plans.
6 Vaginal Birth Becomes a Caesarean
Without a doubt, the way we envision the delivery of our baby is always subject to change. Your birth plan for the hospital is pretty straight forward. You’ve been proactive and informed yourself, and are ready for the stages of labor.
You’ve had a good snack before heading to the hospital, hubby has a lunch bag packed, the cat sitter is in place and you are bringing music and candles to your birthing room. You also bought gorgeous nightwear to make yourself feel at home and comfortable.
You can't possibly plan for an emergency C-section
In the meantime, labor is now in it’s 24th hour and the decision has been made that in order to have your baby safely and without further risk, a cesarean is in order. You are exhausted and don’t even realize that the music stopped long ago. You want, and need this to be over. You don’t feel the need for a second opinion, which was clearly outlined in your birth plan. Let’s do it. Cesarean time is now.
New plan: Be happy that the arrival of your baby is imminent. You can choose to be awake during the procedure, and you can still make it known that you want to hold your newborn as soon as she is born. It’s time to celebrate!
5 Your Medication Outlook Has to Change
No one, and we are serious here, absolutely no one will not understand your need for medication. Sure, your birth plan stated no medication please, but as things go, you are unable to cope with the pain you are feeling.
Everyone has a different tolerance level and individual needs as to how they experience their baby’s birth.
Many of us opt for no medical intervention, whether it be for labor augmentation or pain relief, choosing instead to try breathing techniques, meditation or reflexology, to name a few. In many instances, these well thought out birth plan wishes go straight out the window as a result of a long drawn out labor, a labor that possibly requires medical intervention to give you the much needed rest required so that you can continue with the rest of the delivery stages.
There might be circumstances that prevent you from taking the medication you wanted
Some women feel an epidural for example, doesn’t allow them to fully experience the birthing process, while others have stated that the epidural enabled them to focus more on what was happening rather than tolerating intense pain, thus distracting them from the delivery.
New plan: It is your baby’s birth and you alone are the one who should make the decision about pain relief. Discuss this with your partner well ahead of time; we are positive he will want whatever you want and need. Accept this minor change and revel in the miracle that you are blessed to be a part of.
4 You Need an Episiotomy
Plenty of soon-to-be moms choose to give the direction of no episiotomy, no matter what, in their birth plan. You may direct that it is a last resort. For a fact, this is a pretty tough one to dictate. Let’s be clear - you can’t always call the shots - and honestly, at this point you may not care.
The procedure of an episiotomy was once a common practise in practically every delivery. Today, not so much. But sometimes it really is necessary. And we’ll be honest, an episiotomy can cause complications that you did not even know were there.
Your doctor will only do what's necessary to help you
Rest assured that most ob/gyns will not do this procedure unless there is no alternative. If an extreme tear seems to be in the picture, doctors will perform an episiotomy to prevent further issues. If the baby needs to be delivered quickly and the vagina is not quite prepped for delivery, your health practitioner will opt for the episiotomy for safety reasons.
New plan: An episiotomy is not the worst birth plan change you could have; there is no question that it is done only when it necessitates a safer delivery. These things happen, moms. Be sure to follow the procedures required after this occurs, such as taking extra precautions with hygiene and movement. We agree, it is not what you had planned, but if the episiotomy ensures your newborn’s safe entrance into your arms, then we say go for it.
3 Your Baby Needs Immediate Intervention
The birthing image that we have implanted in our minds is not always a carbon copy of what we get when the time comes. We all know about the skin to skin benefits and bonding - and for certain, we want that for ourselves and for our babies.
But hey, this is what we are talking about here - the plan goes out the window and we are left to pick up the pieces and keep our emotions on an even keel.
There is no black and white plan for any child’s entry into the world.
We can only imagine what it must be like to give birth and have your baby immediately whisked away to the NICU. Maybe your birth plan was changed because your little one was born premature, or it has been discovered that your baby has an unforeseen medical problem. Put everything into perspective. You and your partner together, will see this through.
New plan: Anxiety for certain will be present if your baby is born with respiratory issues due to immature lungs for example, or jaundice which is caused by an excess of bilirubin in the blood. Draw comfort and peace in the fact that your baby is in the hands of professionals who have a passion for helping babies in need. You will bond with your newborn when he is placed in your arms, rest assured. Nature takes precedence, here.
2 Don’t Feel Guilty
More often than not, your birth plan will go out the window, but by all means that is not a reason to not make one. And it is worth saying that if your plan does not come to fruition, you should not feel the least bit guilty.
For nine months, you have done everything possible to ensure a healthy pregnancy. You have kept a nutritional diet and gone for a brisk, daily walk. Prenatal vitamins, plenty of water and regular doctor’s visits were at the top of the list without question.
And we all know that deep down, choosing a healthy baby over a customized delivery plan would win hands down every time. Whether your birthing plan entails a home or hospital birth, a natural, water or hypnobirth, meeting your baby and bringing her home are the ultimate goals.
You can't possibly control everything
So maybe your loved and trusted doctor was out of town on the day your water broke, or maybe you had a precipitous labor and your hubby missed the whole process just arriving to see the last two minutes of the birth (my case) - just because he left you alone for a few minutes to go park the car.
Unforeseen circumstances are just that. Unforeseen and unavoidable. Truly and undeniably, we have a picture and desire of how we want things to go, but that is not how it happens every time.
New plan: Your baby will arrive when your body is ready and the bottom line is this - joy and exaltation are the story now. Baby makes three (or four or five) and this journey has been worth every step, and every bump in the road.
1 Tips for Writing Your Birth Plan
What is usually in a birth plan? Many points can be included, but the key is do not make your plan too long or complicated. The reception of your plan by your delivery caregivers will be accepted more readily if it is realistic and easy to follow. Remember that your birth team is concentrating on you, and on the safe delivery of your long awaited child.
Keep these tips in mind when preparing your birth plan:
●put a copy of your birthing plan in your hospital bag to be sure you have it with you when you enter the hospital or birthing center
●check hospital policies in regards to number of people allowed in the delivery room, and what you can bring into the birthing room such as candles and music
●use assertive and specific language - for example, “I am planning” as opposed to “If possible”
●always keep in mind and at the forefront that medical intervention may be necessary.
You may want to include the following on your birth plan list:
●do you want your companion with you at all times?
●do you want to stay on your feet as long as possible, walking, kneeling or squatting?
●is fetal heart rate monitoring in the plan?
●what are acceptable methods of pain relief?
●how do you feel about forceps and vacuum if needed?
●what is your desire in regards to vaginal exams?
●what are your wishes if your newborn needs alternative care?
The birth plan is a great tool to have to empower yourself for childbirth. But the last word here is, it is not written in stone. Be flexible, be positive and realistic - keep this attitude and the fact that your birth plan did not go exactly as you had imagined will not matter at all. Baby is here and that is the best result ever!