1. Forget the plan! Birth can be pretty unpredictable. Like me, you probably have an idea of the perfect birth and how you want everything to go. While its nice to daydream about, it won’t go perfectly. I know what type of birth I want but I’m going to do my best when the time comes to be flexible and remain relaxed. In fact, after finding out my baby was breech at 36 weeks, 2 days I have really needed to try to open my mind about the type of birth that I might end up having and expand my wishes to cover circumstances I haven’t been anticipating.
2. Answer your practitioner’s questions. Your OB or midwife may have specific questions they want you to be thinking about and put in to your birth plan. Be sure to respond to these since they are important to their practice and how they will treat you.
3. Explore different scenarios. Write out your ideal birth, then expand it from there to include other important information, even if you aren’t hoping it will come up. While you may be terrified of having a C-section, you need to be mentally prepared if it is brought up during your labor at any point. Know in what circumstances you will allow a C-section and what circumstances your practitioner may suggest one, they may not be the same. You and your partner have every right to know if it is a medical emergency or not and ask questions at the time. Do not feel rushed or pressured in to your decision making. It will help if you have thought about and discussed this with your partner and practitioner beforehand.
4. Be specific about drug & other interventions. If you do not want to be offered any drugs during the duration of your birth, explicitly state so. That doesn’t mean you won’t be offered them, but make sure your partner directs whomever has asked to your birth plan and remind them not to bring up the subject. If you change your mind at any time, you can request them. If you know going in to labor that you would like drug intervention then be sure to fully discuss with your practitioner and understand how they work before writing your birth plan. Also discuss in what scenarios you would accept an episiotomy. This should never be done without your knowledge or consent. The same goes for electronic fetal monitoring.
5. Include Postpartum Wishes. Immediately after birth, do you want your baby placed on your chest for skin-to-skin time? Or are you interested in delaying cord clamping or baby’s first bath? Be explicit about these wishes because they are not the usual plan that is followed. If you do not want your baby given any formula or want to approve formula based on certain situations like low blood sugar, then make that clear as well.
I think it is really important to explore the type of birth you want, but keep an open mind since things rarely go as planned. Because of that, you need to be prepared for extenuating circumstances and have thought about different scenarios. It will be much easier to already have thought about these things and have an idea of what you are comfortable with then just going in blindly.
Be sure to discuss your wishes with your practitioner and your partner. And bring copies of your birth plan with you for other staff to reference. If there are certain aspects that are really important to you then it is important to have discussed them well in advance so others are aware of the experience you are looking to have.