Friday, February 10, 2006

Creating A Birthing Plan

When you find out that you are having a baby, you will discover that having a birthing plan is talked about over and over. Yet, your doctor may not ever bring up this point for discussion or may act offended if you start to discuss your birthing plan, particularly if you live in an area where most people follow doctor instructions without question. Still, if you are intent on having a birthing plan, then you should go about producing and presenting one in the proper way.

There are many sample plans that you can find online as well as in various pregnancy books. Before committing to the system outlined in any single plan, you should look at several plans. They will give you an idea of what questions are important to you. After you have a couple of sample birthing plans, it is time to talk to the hospital where you will be giving birth. Here is a hint. Most doctors want you to undergo childbirth classes (in many areas it is a must if your partner will be present for the birth), but they often tell you to wait until you are in your third trimester. Ignore that advice and go now. You may find, as my husband and I did, that we came out of the class with information we wished we had known sooner.

If you are creating a birthing plan, it is particularly important for you to go to the childbirth class sooner because you will find that you will want to know what is available to you. For example, some birthing plans ask you about what tools, such as exercise balls, you wish to have in the room with you. Well, the reality is that some hospitals do not provide those pieces of equipment. You may be able to bring your own, but you will need to check hospital guidelines. That is why it is important to find out plenty of information about the hospital or other facilities where you are planning to give birth. If you will be giving birth at home, then you obviously can set your own guidelines, but you still want to be prepared and know what is out there for you.

Once you are familiar with the hospital, you can begin to work on your birthing plan. It is important not to bring in too much information. In fact, many urban hospitals now have a birthing plan sheet that they prefer. Our hospital gave us a worksheet with the basic information, such as whether or not my husband wanted to cut the umbilical cord. There was a space where we could write any additional information if we had special requests.

If your hospital does not have a set birthing plan sheet, then you can create your own but keep it short and think about the consequences of creating the plan. If you put that you absolutely do not want medication, some hospitals consider that binding. If you change your mind in labor, they will stick to what you wrote down when you were not in pain. Not only that, but most hospitals encourage women to be open to changing their minds during childbirth, so there is no need to put your preference for medicine down when you are preparing your birthing plan.

Other issues may be very important for you. For instance, many women know that their mothers or in-laws will want to be present in the labor room, but the mother-to-be may not want that. Putting on your birthing sheet that only your partner is allowed will give the nurse a heads-up if others come in, and the nurse can play the bad guy and tell them to leave.

Creating your birthing plan is something that you and your partner should do together. It is the time to be completely honest, not to say what you believe the other wants to hear. Listen to any concerns your partner may have as well. He or she may not be comfortable with some parts of the birthing process, and you need to be prepared to make arrangements for what you want to do. The birthing plan can help walk you through the process and take some of the mystery out of this momentous occasion.

By Julia Mercer

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