Childbirth Blueprints: Read Stephanie and Harold's Story
"The birth plan is intended to be an outline that changes as circumstances change."
The span of time between learning you’re pregnant and looking that sweet, little baby in the eyes is filled with excitement and anxiety. So while you’re waiting for your whole life to turn upside down, what else is there to do but prepare? For many couples, the first step toward ensuring they will have the birth experience closest to their expectations is to create a plan. A birth plan is a written document you prepare stating your and your partner’s preferences for the birth of your child. It can be as general or specific as you wish. You can detail your preferences for something as simple as what you will wear during birth, to more complex aspects of childbirth, such as pain management and fetal monitoring. Here are five tips to help you incorporate your birth plan as seamlessly as possible:
1. Think about your expectations.
Consider early on what you anticipate you will want on the day you give birth. Who do you want in the room with you? What are your pain management options? Will you be breastfeeding? Once you’ve settled on how you envision your childbirth experience, choose a practitioner you trust to respect your wishes and communicate clearly with you when you have questions or concerns. It's important that you trust your practitioner to guide you through labor and to be prepared for the unexpected.
2. Work together.
The birth plan serves as a communication tool between the patient and her partner, and the practitioner. Share your plan with your doctor or midwife well before your expected due date to open the line of communication early. Preparing a birth plan allows you, your partner and provider to collaborate and address any issues that may impact the your experience. Patients at the RWJ OB/GYN Group Hamilton are encouraged to meet with all of the practitioners in the practice during the prenatal period. Once a birth plan is introduced, it is attached to the patient’s file so that each practitioner who sees the patient is aware of her desires. A copy is also sent to the maternity unit so that support staff can review the plan when the patient arrives in labor.
3. Educate yourself.
Knowledge is power. The more you know about how to prepare for childbirth, the better the experience will be for you. Be sure to attend RWJ Hamilton's childbirth education classes. The majority of what happens during childbirth is covered in these classes, so the classes can set you and your partner's minds at ease.
4. Be realistic and flexible.
Regardless of how much you prepare for childbirth, many patients find there is one surprise for every two things that go as planned. The birth plan is intended to be an outline that changes as circumstances change. Patients should acknowledge that medical interventions may be necessary if complications arise. RWJ Hamilton respects a patient’s autonomy and right to decide on her care — however, we do want patients to understand that our highest priority is a healthy mother and baby.
Parenting may be one of the oldest jobs in the world, but it is new for you. Even if you’re not a first-time parent, every birth experience — much like every child — is different and full of surprises.
| Meet Harold, Stephanie and Mia Laudien of Hamilton
Harold and Stephanie Laudien chose to write a birth plan when planning for the arrival of their daughter, Mia. "We wrote our plan about seven months into the pregnancy, and sat down with our doctor to go over it," says Stephanie.
The Laudiens learned about the many facets of childbirth through independent research, and by talking to thier physicians, educators and their doula, a privately-contracted provider of non-medical childbirth support.
Change of Plan
On the day of the birth, the Laudiens arrived at the hospital and met their certified nurse midwife from the RWJ OB/GYN Group Hamilton, who would guide them through labor and delivery.
Per her birth plan, Stephanie was not given any pain medication. Concerned about a decrease in Mia's heart rate, It was recommended the Laudiens allow the midwife to rupture the amniotic sac (break her water).
Although it was an intervention they did not anticipate, the Laudiens had educated themselves beforehand. They knew the situation was serious and agreed to have the sac ruptured. "We'd talked about the plan with our doctor early on, and were prepared for things that might happen," say Harold.
The Laudiens, together with their midwife and their doula, worked through labor for a total of 23 hours until the much anticipated arrival of baby Mia, weighing in at a healthy 10 lbs. 7 oz.