By Charlotte De Vries
With your body and life changing in profound ways, it isn’t always easy to feel in control as your due date approaches. Creating a birth plan helps you make decisions early on and build confidence before labor and birth. Your plan is a source of strength and inspiration, not a rigid map of what must be done. It isn’t about checklists or completing a form. Every pregnancy and birth is unique, and one plan does not fit all. Sift through information from health care providers, classes, books, friends and family, and get to know your options. Keep an open mind and a peaceful, positive outlook. A plan isn’t any guarantee that your birth will go just as you envision it. Plan for the unexpected. Consider these key factors:
You probably already know where you’ll have your baby, but you can still shape that environment so it becomes a private, safe space where your voice will be heard and your choices will be respected. Choose a few ground rules, such as closed doors, restrictions on who can come in and out, and a minimum number of machines.
Do you want a doula? Will siblings be present? The people who will be with you to offer support during labor and birth should be central to your plan – their job is to make you feel confident, comfortable and safe. Share your desires clearly. Remember that what is obvious to you is not necessarily apparent to them.
There are many natural ways to cope with the valuable and important pain of labor. Simple measures like walking, movement, massage and aromatherapy are noninvasive with no risk to you or your baby. Remember: Pain is central to the design of birth – it is not an unfortunate side effect. Express how you would like to manage it and consider the natural, safe alternatives to anesthesia. Trust your ability to cope with the pain.
Freedom to Move
Moving around as you wish and choosing your own positions for pushing is important. Make it known if you’d prefer to forgo machines, monitors and drugs.
Your early moments with your newborn are just as important as your labor and birth. This is intimate time to connect and bond. If mother and baby are well, hospital routines and procedures can wait. Protect the first moments you meet and marvel at each other as you begin your lives together.