Saturday, July 6, 2013

Confident Birthing with Shining Light Prenatal Education: What is a Birth Plan?!

by Sarah Davis

One of the first topics Deena Blumenfeld covers in the “Confident Birthing” class how to write a birth plan.  If you are like me, you have heard of birth plans, but you have no idea what to write on them.  The only line I had written mentally was, “Do not give me a C-section just to make money or to save yourself some time.”

What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is a written document that goes over how you want your labor and delivery to go.

Topics to consider when writing your birth plan:
Is there anything about yourself that you feel the doctor should know?
Do you want music playing during your labor, delivery, or even a C-section?
Who do you want in the room with you?
If you are giving birth in a hospital, do you want to make fully informed decisions when it comes to what is done to you?
Do you want pain medication?
Do you want to eat during labor? (See a few of the tips we learned below for this topic. Most hospitals do not allow anything other than clear liquids, so what will you eat before you leave to go to the hospital?)
Do you want skin-to-skin contact with your baby immediately after you give birth?

Do you plan on breastfeeding?

Why you should really research your options before writing your birth plan:
One of the topics on my mind about giving birth in a hospital is eating. I know you aren't allowed to eat during labor in the hospital but I watched a Youtube video of a pregnant woman in Ireland eating a hospital meal during labor and I wondered why it was such a big no-no in the US.

One of the best parts of the class was when Deena said, “You are pregnant, you are not sick.” This gave me a better perspective of going to the hospital to give birth. I thought about how I did want to eat. Childbirth is a natural process and it seems like it will be hard work! I know I am going to want a few bites of food in my belly. This was a topic for me to consider writing into my birth plan. The class goes over why eating during labor in the hospital was banned because of the anesthesia given during a c-section, but how since you are kept awake for this procedure in recent years, it isn’t medically proven to be dangerous. (Don't quote me on that medical info, but know that research exists that goes against eating during labor!) If you are adamant about eating during labor, should you consider giving birth at a midwife center? Topics like these are something for a pregnant woman to consider, which is why I recommend taking a class like this, which explores not just the hospital’s approach to childbirth.  

(***Although Deena was sure to point out that you should never lie about eating in a hospital setting to your medical team because your health comes first.)

TIP: Write your birth plan after taking a class like "Confident Birthing" to ensure you know what you're talking about and that you know what your options actually are!

Will the hospital staff take my birth plan seriously?
I have a great doctor, but when I asked her how I could prevent a C-section, it somehow came up that the nurses love to poke fun at women who bring birth plans to the hospital, which turned me off when it came to writing one for myself.  

I was glad to attend a childbirth class that not only covered this topic (I’m assuming hospital childbirth classes wouldn’t go over something like this), but also covered if nurses, who are the main people you deal with, would take your birth plan seriously.

Deena gives many insider-tips for handling nurses, but I don’t want to give all of them away. Basically, if your nurse is on your side, you are much better off than if your nurse doesn’t like you.  Nurses are people, too.  Pull your nurse aside and tell her to sit with you at some point to discuss your birth plan.  Never push your birth plan on anyone, or it for sure, will be a joke at the nurse’s station.  

Plan on discussing each item on your list with your health care provider, as simply writing something down on paper, especially in a medical environment, doesn't mean it will happen.
Some other valuable tools the first class of the Confident Birthing class that correspond with writing your birth plan:
-What are some signs to look forward to figure out if you are in early labor?
-What is a contraction and what are some tips for getting through them at home without medication?
-When should you leave for the hospital?
-What are your legal rights as a pregnant woman when giving birth in a hospital?
-How do you know you are making a fully informed decision when the doctors want to do something to you- like administer Pitocin? Are you allowed to challenge their medical advice?
If you are curious as to how to write your own birth plan, you can sign up for this class with Shining Light Prenatal Education or you can contact Deena.  The class provides you with a birth plan template, which in my opinion, is a lifesaver.  

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