One of the first meetings I have with my clients is dedicated to drafting their birth plan. I have five pages of questions that the client ranks in importance on a scale of 1-5. These pages cover everything from the early stage of labor, when contractions are spaced out but you have that feeling that “it’s time”, to going to the hospital, the actions that happen when it’s time to push, the first moments after the baby is born, and through to the time of leaving the hospital.

Having a doula who can explain what all the questions mean – and who has a list of questions in the first place – can be a huge help in and of its self but with a little time and research, anyone can write their own birth plan.

Having a doula who can explain what all the questions mean – and who has a list of questions in the first place – can be a huge help in and of its self but with a little time and research, anyone can write their own birth plan.First, think about the things that you really want from this birth. I have had so many women tell me about their birth story and end it with, “but the baby was healthy and that’s all that really matters.” while choking back tears. The emotions that mothers-to-be put into imagining the birth of their baby need to be honored, so write them down.

Now you can work on the best way to get to your goal. For a first time mom who doesn’t want a lot of interventions that plan might include staying home for as long as possible. For a mom who wants a vaginal birth after having a C-section with her first baby, her plan might include a lot of walking or kneeling (positions that encourage a wide pelvis which helps the baby into the optimal head down placement).

Now you can work on the best way to get to your goal. For a first time mom who doesn’t want a lot of interventions that plan might include staying home for as long as possible. For a mom who wants a vaginal birth after having a C-section with her first baby, her plan might include a lot of walking or kneeling (positions that encourage a wide pelvis which helps the baby into the optimal head down placement).
Breaking down the segments of labor can aid in planning. For someone who has a large family but wants just her partner at the birth, having the family over during early labor can be a welcome distraction (especially if they bring food) and might keep them from showing up at the hospital.
A mom who has been doing yoga for years and has no problem meditating through the strong contractions might make a note asking for the lights in her room to be dim and for the nurses to respect the quite when they come into her room and to have spontaneous pushing instead of directed instructions from the staff.Moms who have a priority for breastfeeding might ask for the baby to be placed directly onto their
chest after birth. Or, maybe who cuts the cord – and how long after the baby is born the cord is clamped – is important.

After things have calmed down, you might want a few minutes to rest while the baby is taken to the nursery or you might want the newborn exam to happen in your room.Now that you have your ideal birth planned out take a moment to think about the “what ifs”. What if you need a C-section? Or if the baby has to be taken out of the room for extra help? You might not have your ideal birth but you can still plan on ways to include the things that are important to you.

Once you have this together share it with your doctor before the birth since there might be hospital policies that prohibit what you’re asking for. Bring extra copies with you to the hospital so they can be given to the nurses who will be helping you.
If this all still seems a little daunting, you can always call a doula!

Naomi Starsiak is a birth and postpartum doula, a placenta encapsulator, a natural birth consultant, and the co-owner of A Peaceful Birth doula & childbirth service. You can find her on Facebook at facebook.com/APeacefulBirthDoulas.
Have a question? E-mail it to Naomi at nestarsiak@gmail.com.

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