Details, Choices, Decisions
Where to begin with planning the details for your birth experience? You have SO many options surrounding your birth experience. And please remember, it is an experience, one you will likely remember for the rest of your life. It isn't merely just a medical process to jump over or cope with, and then magically you have a cute little baby. Obviously if you want to view it like that, it's totally up to you, but I would encourage you to put as much effort into planning your birth as you would into details for your wedding, or a prom, or any special event. I imagine for any special event you'd think about timing, decorations, food, and who is on the guest list. Your birth really deserves the same level of attention to detail! You can find out more about writing a great birth plan over here.
You wouldn't just vaguely give people an idea of where your special event was taking place, then cross your fingers and hope for the best. Why should birth be treated in this way? Plan, plan, plan!
Similarly you wouldn't decide overnight to get up the next morning and run a marathon. You'd be more likely to find out all the relevant details in advance, you'd know about the race date and begin a training programme and look at ways you can improve your experience, stamina and speed. The same is true of birth. While it is a natural process that your body prepares you for (sometimes with Braxton-Hicks contractions as your uterus 'warms up') you may also need some mental preparation. This will be a huge and important experience in your life; you and your body have been going through incredible changes over the months of pregnancy, and whether you are aiming for vaginal birth or a C-section, you will be delivering your baby at some point. If you want to focus on having a positive experience, you can help yourself to achieve that by feeling fully relaxed and fully informed.
Your decisions can begin way before the estimated due date approaches. For example, if you know you want a home water birth, you'll need to make sure you have hired yourself a pool in advance, plus had a practise at filling it up to see how long it takes, and what temperature your prefer. So start by picturing your ideal birth. Forget all the screaming mums and midwives shouting 'Push!' that TV and films like to show us. Picture how relaxed you feel after attending your MummyNatal class. How would you like to recreate that feeling when the time comes to bring your baby into the world? And then break that picture down into the finer details. Some of the questions below are a good starting point.
- What type of birth do you think you might want?
- Have you considered a pool birth? If so have you considered that in hospital you cannot guarantee access to a pool? Perhaps your delivery suite only has one or two, and other mothers may be using them when you want one.
- Would you feel more relaxed at home, with one-to-one midwife care?
- Perhaps you'd prefer a hospital birth over home birth?
- Will you want to be on a delivery suite in a midwife-lead birth centre, or a hospital maternity ward?
- Do you need or want to book a Caesarian section, or will you want to try VBAC or vaginal delivery?
- Has your GP or midwife said you are classed as high risk? This might affect your home birth or hospital choice.
- Do you want to take a birth ball with you to use, or a yoga mat, or bring scents, pillows, music - if so, does your birth centre/hospital have access for these things?
- Do you wish to wear your own clothes, be naked, or wear a gown?
- Would you like as few a vaginal examinations as possible, or regular checks and updates?
- Will you want your birth partner/s or photographer to take photos or film the labour, or birth, or both?
- If you're in hospital, do you want to allow any medical students in the room if they request to come in?
- Do you want to be more active, and move around freely, or lie down, sit on a chair/bed/sofa?
- Will you want to try birth ball positions, a birthing stool, shower or bath?
- Have you considered what pain relief options you want to try, if any?
- Do you wish to be coached into positions for delivery, or coached to push, or not?
- Would you like a midwife to speak to you during labour, or just have your birth partners/s talk to you?
- Do you want checks on baby right away, or would you prefer to wait until after 'The Golden Hour'?
- Will you wish to try breastfeeding right away, do you prefer to wait a while, or will you want to formula feed?
- Do you want to be given the injection to trigger release of the placenta (managed third stage) or wait for it to deliver without use of drugs?
- Would you like to see your placenta, or save it for any reason? (For example, encapsulation, or for stem cell research.)
- Will you want to cut the cord yourself, or have your birth partner do it, or a midwife?
- Do you wish to wait for the cord to stop pulsing before clamping and cutting it? (Delayed cord clamping.)
- Will you want your baby to have the Vitamin K injection, or given it orally, if at all?
- If you've had stitches, do you want to see them?
- What pain relief might you wish to take if you have experienced a vaginal tear?
- Might you want a snack or shower afterwards?