Today Micah and I went on a spontaneous trip to visit a friend from church at St. Mary's hospital. We also stopped by the Childbirth Center there to say hi to the nurses and deliver a birth announcement card. I guess the announcement part was totally unnecessary since they were the first ones to find out, but I think they appreciate getting the card anyway. The nurses who helped us give birth were not there when we visited, but the other folks were delighted to see the now grown up (5 months!) Micah and will pass the card on. The visit led me to remember our birth experience and how lucky we were to have found such supportive hospital staff who were sensitive to our needs.
Everyday, there are thousands of babies and moms who are not treated with evidence based care in this country. (Check out the movie section of this blog for a trailer of The Business of Being Born.) One way to make your wishes known is by writing a birth plan such as the one below. It's not so much a "plan" of how you want the birth to progress, but a list of preferences to help the hospital staff understand your needs. Feel free to use the following as a template for your own birth plan or you can also make one for free on the Earth Mama Angel Baby website.
Once you've drafted your birth plan, be sure to show your doctor or midwife and discuss any issues or concerns at a routine pregnancy visit. Trust me, it's better to have the conversation before you are in labor. Also be sure to have your doctor or midwife sign the plan so that when you bring a copy with you to the hospital, the nurses on staff will know that the plan has been reviewed. It's also a good idea to bring a couple copies to cover shift changes.
Lastly, as with any plan, don't be afraid to deviate from it! Every birth is different. The focus should always be how to have the safest birth possible for both mom and baby. Having a plan won't guarantee that the birth will go the way you want it to, but it will help you clarify and communicate your preferences. Here's to a healthy happy birth!
Jenn and Paul's Birth Preferences
Dear Hospital Staff,
We trust in your expertise and sensitivity and thank you in advance for your support during our birth. Below is our “ideal” birthing scenario, but we realize that in the event of a life-threatening emergency, we will be relying on your professional judgment and skills to see us through. If the labor is normal, we ask that you refrain from using any interventions not previously agreed upon.
Jennifer will be using relaxation techniques including the Bradley Method, and for this reason we ask that the staff speak softly and avoid references to “pain” and “hard work”. Please do not offer pain medication.
The people present for the birth will be Paul (husband), and Tisha Graham (doula).
- pain management: warm birth pool, shower, massage, birth ball, heat pack
- as long as the baby and I are doing well:
- intermittent rather than continuous EFM (electronic fetal monitor)
- minimize vaginal exams
- would like to try for water birth
- position: squatting or hands & knees
- perineal massage, perineal pressure, hot compresses, and oil would be appreciated
- prefer risking a tear rather than having an episiotomy
- hold baby right away, delay any procedures that aren’t urgent, breastfeed as soon as possible
- no routine ice pack for Jenn
- please do not cut cord until we give permission, have Paul cut the cord
- sponge bath for Jenn instead of shower
- Paul would like to clean and pack the cord and placenta for us to take home
- all newborn procedures done in Jenn’s presence or, if she can’t be there, in Paul’s presence
-breastfeeding only - no bottles or pacifiers
- routine checks for baby’s vital signs performed in our room
If C-section is needed, I’d like:
- Paul to be present at all times
- the baby given to Paul as soon as possible, as long as baby is okay
- to breastfeed as soon as possible