I’ve mentioned it before, but I can’t get enough of birth stories. I love hearing about how women realized they were in labor, how quickly (or slowly) things progressed, how long they pushed for, and what their recovery was like. When I was pregnant, I read a lot of birth stories (Hello Bee has a ton) and also looked at some birth plans. With the birth stories you see a lot of “this wasn’t on my birth plan,” or, “I had on my birth plan that I wanted, but…,” but no one includes their actual birth plan with the birth story. Women usually share their birth plans while they’re still pregnant so then you’re left wondering if they actually got that water birth with no medical intervention and subsequent placenta encapsulation to improve recovery they were banking on.
I hadn’t necessarily been planning on writing a birth plan but per my midwife’s request, I wrote and handed one over at 38 weeks. We’re at a point now where things like the Golden Hour, delayed cord clamping, and putting off procedures (shots, testing, etc.) are common place. Through my previous work I already had a good grasp on what the standard procedures were at the 3 main hospitals for delivery in Buffalo (plus my OB/GYN’s standards), and I felt confident that even if I didn’t write a birth plan, I was going to be happy with the outcome (because I wasn’t eating my placenta or anything like that).
Everything my plan included was based on experience (I’m pretty sure your first labor is just a trial run) and Googling a combination of “birth plan” and “natural birth.” I wanted to dip my toes in natural birth, but by that point was 100% okay with getting an epidural. Because of this, I wanted to keep everything pretty open–don’t offer me anything, but don’t call me a baby if I ask for it.
Before I move on, keep in mind that Maggie’s delivery went far better than I ever could have asked for. That being said, it was comical comparing what I had requested with what actually happened. I actually sat down a few weeks after Maggie was born and commentated the below on an extra copy of her birth plan. So if you’re pregnant and looking for a relaxed birth plan, you’ve come to the right place–just ignore the pink. And if you’ve gone through this before, you can sit back and commiserate over best-laid plans.
Leading up to labor I’d like
- Internal exams only if indicated, and not until 40 weeks if myself and the baby are healthy. I’m 39 weeks pregnant, and just spent 3 nights sleeping in a hospital bed with a 2.5 year old on oxygen and an IV having Albuterol-induced night terrors before moving into a new house. Do whatever you want. Oh, 1/2 cm and posterior? Let me go schedule my 41 week appointment.
- To wait at least 7 days past due date before induction is discussed, as long as the baby and myself are healthy. Can we make that 3 weeks? I’d like to take a nap first.
- To use natural induction techniques prior to medical intervention to induce or speed up labor, if necessary. Try and tell me raspberry leaf tea “might” get things going. (Prodromal labor FTW)
- Use the lowest dose of Pitocin if induction is absolutely necessary. Get that sh*t away from me.
During labor I’d like…
- Dim lights. I’m not opening my eyes until this is OVER. Break out the stadium lights.
- The room as quiet as possible. I’m not sure who this random male student is, but please tell him to keep up the between-contractions exchange.
- My husband to be present at all times. And attached to the end of my arm. Is that your phone? PUT AWAY YOUR PHONE.
- To be allowed to eat and drink. Thanks for offering but do I look like I want to puke my brains out? Where’s the wet washcloth? Give me a wet washcloth!
- Heparin or saline lock only. To quote my midwife, “ain’t nobody got time for that.”
- Medical pain relief only if requested. Me: “GIVE ME AN EPIDURAL.” Midwife: ditto the above.
- Only intermittent fetal monitoring if necessary. Yea, no, no time for this either.
- To be able to move freely. Just try to pry my body out of the fetal position.
- To use a shower, birthing ball, or birthing tub and for these to be present in the room. Nurse: “Ha! I don’t think you’re getting in the jacuzzi. Moving on now.”
- If neither midwife from OB/GYN Associates is available, to be delivered by a Mercy midwife (not a doctor).
During delivery I’d like…
- To be able to deliver in any position (squatting, lying on side, reclining, etc.). Just tell me what to do to get her out of me. And then put me in that position.
- To push without time limits as long as the baby and I are not at risk. 18 minutes later…
- Have perineal support if indicated. High fives for slashing my recovery time. (No joke, if this isn’t on your birth plan PUT IT ON THERE. I went from 30-some stitches and weeks of having to sit on a donut pillow with Lily, to no stitches, no swelling, and no peeing in my pants with Maggie.)
After delivery I’d like…
- To immediately hold my baby and breastfeed.
- Delay cord clamping until the cord stops pulsing. Oh, the cord’s around her neck? No, I don’t want to leave it there. Oxygen > iron, y’all.
- To not have my baby taken off of me for any reason as long as we are healthy. Okay, she’s getting sticky now. Can we get a bath over here?
- To delay weighing, bathing, and any tests or treatments for one hour post birth. Or 4 hours if there’s no room at the inn. Ahem, nursery.
- No bottles or formula given or offered.
- Pacifiers only to be given by myself or my husband. *stuffs all the free pacifiers in pocket*
The one aspect of my birth plan I did the most looking into (asked my yoga group and my midwife) and felt confident would come to fruition was the moving freely. I didn’t love laboring in a reclined position with Lily (I did a lot of squatting and bouncing before my epidural), and so fully armed myself with knowledge of favorable birthing positions. When it came down to it though, the traditional Western birthing position I had scoffed at was right for me. They literally pried me out of the fetal position onto my back and I felt immediate relief and went right from transition to pushing. I didn’t ask but I’m pretty sure my nurse and midwife could somehow tell this would work, because I had discussed the logistics of birthing on all fours with them and they were completely supportive of it. They did everything else I had asked for, so I’m guessing they relied on experience to take the reins on this one and I’m so glad they did.