When it comes to labor and delivery, I hesitate to use the word “plan”. Although what I’m talking about is actually called a birth “plan”, I believe the word “preparation” is more fitting. There is so much planning (or preparation) in and around the birth of a baby. There’s planning around conception and timing, baby names, nurseries, gender reveals, baby showers, child care, doctor’s appointments, etc. Why not put the same amount of energy into preparing how you envision your labor and delivery unfolding? A birth plan is a blueprint for your ideal L&D experience (before, during, and after). It is a way to communicate your wishes with the Hospital staff and to remain realistic with what the Hospital is actually able to provide. For example, if it is your goal to deliver in a birthing tub, but your Hospital of choice doesn’t have a birthing tub, you may need to seek out other options. Seems pretty straight forward, right?
When I was pregnant with my first child, my Husband and I were a part of a centering group. The group was led by one of the Midwives and a Medical Assistant. We got to know the group pretty well and I felt my wishes were known so I didn’t feel compelled to create a birth plan. In fact, when I called the midwife to say we were coming in to deliver the baby, she had already prepared the birthing tub without me having to ask! I highly recommend participating in a centering group if you have the option, especially for your first experience. It’s a highly supportive and informative program! Also, my Husband and I were fairly new to the area so it was a great way to meet others!
For our second pregnancy, we did not participate in the centering group. I met a new midwife at each appointment and only saw them for a short period of time. During this time there were also several new Midwives, which was wonderful, but I didn’t feel like we knew each other as well as I knew the Midwife who ran the centering group with my first pregnancy. In this situation, I felt it was necessary to create and share a birth plan with my healthcare team.
I shared it with a midwife at an appointment around 30-32 weeks (I believe…pregnancy brain!). We went through it together and she complimented me on several things which made me feel empowered! At my next appointment, I met with another midwife and she commented positively on my birth plan as well (I didn’t have it in hand so I know she read it in my file). YES! They all took the time to read it over and I know it resonated with some of them because they reiterated it back to me at my appointments leading up to the birth. This made me feel heard, comfortable, and supported by the birthing team- a priceless feeling!
Not sure where to start? Looking for some guidance? Here are some tips for writing up a birth plan:
Interested to see my birth plan? Here you go…
Payne Family Birth Plan
Big Sister: Savannah, 2.5 years old
*We understand that certain emergency or other medical circumstances may not allow for the accommodation of this plan*
Hospital Labor Goals
· We plan to have only Ryan (Dad) present for labor and birth- besides hospital staff of course!
· No visitors until we (mom and dad) have had at least 1 hour doing skin to skin with our new baby.
· No visitors until I have attempted to breastfeed
· I prefer to labor in the tub if available
*Although we are aiming for an un-medicated birth, I may change my mind and ask for an epidural (or laughing gas if available) *
Cesarean Section (if medically necessary)
Thank you for taking the time to help us achieve a natural childbirth for our second baby!
Whew, this is a lengthy post! I just love this stuff and I assume you do too if you've made it this far. Just remember, nothing is set in stone- you can change your mind at any point along the journey. And as always, what's right for someone else, may not be right for you- listen to your gut, you know yourself best!
Don't ya just love a good Hospital selfie?!
This is Brooks' birth story part 2 of 3. If you missed Part 1, here it is!
We had a relaxed and leisurely drive to the Hospital talking nonchalantly about how they'll probably check the baby and send us home. My ride to the hospital while in labor with Savannah was a lot more hectic, speedier, and involved some yelling if I do recall (oops, sorry Ryan!). We arrived at 8:30 am and this time around we actually got to park the car and walk into the non-emergency entrance together; as opposed to my first experience when Ryan's tires screeched into the drop-off area in the ER and I was escorted up to maternity by a security officer while Ryan parked the car. We left all of our bags in the car thinking they would be sending us home to continue laboring there. Walking into the Hospital room was so surreal and a rush of memories flooded back from when we were here just 2 short years earlier.
The Baby's heart rate was normal and I was only 2-3 cm dilated so they decided to keep me even though contractions were still irregular. Part of me felt like such a wimp being admitted at only 2-3 cm, I wanted to go home to prove I was tough and could endure hours of painful labor on my own just like I did with Savannah (why do we always feel the need to prove something to others?! So ridiculous!).
By 11:55 am, the contractions were picking up so we decided to move the party into the birthing tub. We listened to music, the nurse brought me cold cloths, I applied some oils, and dimmed the lights- it felt heavenly and really helped alleviate some of the pain (the midwife would pop in and out of the room and kept commenting on how nice it smelled- thank you Lavender Fine). The nurse was required to be in the room with us, but kept her distance and gave us as much privacy as she could. She did chime in at one point when "Millionaire" by Chris Stapleton came on. She said how much she loved him and that she saw him in concert last summer- we did too! It was a nice connection and a welcome distraction from the discomfort.
A little while later, while relaxing and breathing through the contractions, my phone sent me a notification that it was Dave Mathews' birthday (we've seen him several times in concert) and Ryan told me it was also Sergio Garcia's birthday (many people over the years have told Ryan how he looks like Sergio- a Professional Golfer). Another fun connection and distraction!
I got out of the tub after an hour (now 1 pm) because the contractions were intensifying and I was getting hot. It felt really good to walk around and move at this point. The midwife came back to the room with us and tried several techniques to try and help me through the contractions, she tried different pressure points, a birthing ball, breathing, and a rebozo. The pressure on my back was the most comforting; she showed ryan what to do and it did help for a little while
...and then it didn't...
Finally at 3:15 pm I felt that I could no longer manage the pain on my own and I opted for an epidural. One of the nurses (the Chris Stapleton nurse) shared with me her experience with another mother who struggled between getting an epidural and "toughing it out". After the mother-to-be got the epidural she felt so much better and as the nurse stated "happier". The nurse said she's never had a mom who regretted getting an epidural. With savannah I really beat myself up over getting one. I felt at peace with it this time around. The staff knew I was aiming for an epidural-free delivery, but stayed open-minded (just as I did) in case things changed.
I felt like I gave the unmedicated labor my all and I was at my limit. At this point I was 7-8 cm dilated. I confided with the midwife I was hesitant to get an epidural at this point because I didn't want it to slow my labor. She assured me that I had good momentum and I was already far along so she didn't feel it would slow me down much. The contractions were a 10/10 but before I could get the epidural I needed to have an IV put in and a full bag of fluids before (because the epidural affects your BP)
It took the staff 30 minutes to get me the epidural (when you're having 10/10 contractions every 2-3 minutes, this feels like death). The reason it took 30 minutes was because another mother had *just* come in and had a baby in the next room over- wtf?!
The anesthesiologist came in and remembered us from savannah's birth over 2 years ago. Well...he remembered Ryan because they talked about golf while he was inserting the gigantic needle into my spine. Again, they bonded over golf while the midwife held my hand through the epidural (*rolls eyes*)...
I felt some relief after the first few contractions. Ryan and I were in the room together just resting. I was in a half sleep-like, meditative state which felt really nice. The midwife checked me at 5:30 and I was 9.5 cm dilated and had a bloody show! YES! I thought the end was in site; maybe 1 more hour until we get to meet our son! She returned at 6:30 pm to check me again and to my disbelief, I was STILL 9.5 cm dilated. WHAT. This is exactly what I didn't want (especially so close to the end)! She tried to push my cervix aside but it wouldn't budge.
This is when she said they would need to give me a little pitocin to pick up the pace again. NO. THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED! I did the epidural/pitocin dance with Savannah's birth and it was something I was trying to avoid this time around.
...stay tuned for part 3 of 3...
“We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” – Laura Stavoe Harm
If there's anything my pregnancies and births have taught me, it's that every experience is unique. My experience with Brooks was a complete 180 from my experience with Savannah. My pregnancy with Brooks was smooth sailing and I felt great, albeit big, the majority of the 9 months. Conversely, with Savannah, I was sick for a good chunk of the pregnancy and stayed pretty petite even toward the end. I knew I didn't feel good when pregnant with my first child, but I didn't realize how bad I felt until going through my second pregnancy (does that make sense?). Could it be that I was chasing after a toddler and didn't realize the toll it was taking on my body? Or that it was my second pregnancy and my body had already been through the hormonal roller-costar? Could it be that I was having a boy and not a girl? There are so many factors that play into this, it's impossible to identify!
I said all throughout my pregnancy that I was going to work right up until I gave birth because "that's what I did with Savannah" (I sounded like a broken record with my "that's what I did with Savannah" statements). I didn't expect to gain as much weight as I did (35 pounds) and to feel as uncomfortable as I did toward the end. I hit the 40 week mark on a Monday and after a long, sleepless night with Savannah, I had had it. I was exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally and (this is serious) I had absolutely no clean work clothes to wear that fit me so I decided to start my maternity leave. I wasn't having contractions or any signs of labor, but I needed to take some time for myself before the baby arrived and in retrospect, I'm SO glad I did!
On Monday, January 7 (my first official day of maternity leave), I started to lose my mucous plug. With Savannah, I had lost my entire mucous plug after hours of mild and consistent contractions. I was excited that things were slightly progressing (in my mind), but I was trying not to get my hopes up. The next morning at 8 am, I lost the rest of my mucous plug and thought today could be the day (again, no contractions or serious signs of labor)! Losing your mucous plug is not a sign of labor since it can still take days/weeks before actual labor begins- wahhh!
That night, I went to bed a little disappointed but I was trying to remain calm and patient. I was pretty uncomfortable and not able to sleep but it was nothing new at this stage in the game. I was so uncomfortable that I decided to go downstairs and sleep on the couch at 4 am. At 6 am I woke to feeling like I had peed a little bit- also not unusual, especially when baby decides to give you a left hook just because! I stood up to go to the bathroom and felt a gush of water- FINALLY!!! My water broke...things are progressing...or so I thought...I remember feeling a little baby kick right after my water broke, but still no contractions. When my water broke with Savannah, my contractions became unbearable immediately. My adrenaline was going and I was too excited to go back to sleep. I decided to take a shower and pack Savannah's diaper bag and lunch for the day. I called the midwife at 7:30 am (an hour and a half after my water broke) to let her know my water broke and I haven't felt the baby move since 6 am. She suggested I drink a large glass of ice water and lay down on my right side to get the baby to move (you're supposed to feel 10 kicks/hour).
At this point, I was having some mild, inconsistent contractions. The midwife called me back 20 minutes later and told me to come in so they can check on the baby for everyone's peace of mind. I still hadn't felt any movement at this point so I was relieved when she asked me to come in. I finished packing my hospital bag, Savannah woke up, and we left. Normally Savannah doesn't have a problem if we leave her (especially if she is with her grandparents), but today- of course- she started to cry and my heart was breaking for her. She knew something was different that morning, life was about to change.
I love this picture of Savannah waving goodbye to us as we drove off to the Hospital.
...stay tuned for part 2 of 3....
Welcome to Moms in Harmony, I'm so glad you're here! My name is Meg and I'm a healthy lifestyle enthusiast, holistic advocate, wannabe blogger, Wife, and Mom trying to get the hang of it all. Kick off your flip flops and stay awhile!
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