Reflections on Motherhood and Life as a Doula

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Birth Plans - Making them stick!

I'd like to think that everytime a staff of nurses get a copy of a woman's birth plan, they say - "Yes!  A woman is taking control of her birth!  Let's help her get the experience she desires!"
Unfortunately, I don't think this happens every day.  Not that I don't believe there are amazing nurses who support natural childbirth, I just don't think there are as many as we would like.

So we write a birth plan, describing everything we want and don't want at every possible stage of labor, and we even throw in those "in case of emergency" points.  STOP!  Erase, delete, burn!  I don't care, just get rid of that damned thing. 

My first bit of advice - and remember, this is not medical advice...I have nothing backing what I say, other than my own personal experience - Don't write anything about the first stage of labor.  Labor at home!  You'll be a million times more comfortable, nobody is going to be sticking things inside of you, you can rest without someone coming in to wake you up and ask you to "rate" your pain, you can eat, you can drink, you can sit on the toilet without being disrupted (unless you have a 2 year old in the house), music, tv, prayer, dance, dah dah dah dah dah...and the list goes on.  Save yourself some sanity, and scrap the whole first half of your birth plan. 
Now, if you are planning on giving birth in a hospital, I imagine that you would like to arrive to the place of birth BEFORE the baby completely emerges from your vagina.  If I am correct, and you want a natural birth, you may want to jot down, "PLEASE do NOT offer chemical pain relief".  Done.  Simple as that.  They get the point, and you didn't come off as a crazy whack-job who is trying to tell them how to do their jobs.

If you leave it like this, there is no room for discussion.  The only way things will change, is if there is a TRUE emergency - and in that case, there will be no discussion.  Don't give anybody the opportunity to talk to you about a "possible emergency if this and this and that happen".  There could be a possible emergency if I walk out my front door right now...but I'm still gonna go ahead and do it.  There are dangers in everything we do, but we know that for low-risk mothers; natural, vaginal childbirth is the safest way to go.

I also don't think you should write about pushing.  If you are pushing with no chemical pain relief, you are pushing when you feel the need to push.  Believe me...NO ONE can stop you.  If they try to coach you, just ignore them.  You don't need coaching.  And whatever position feels good to push in, get in that position.  If they argue with you, ignore them (as long as somebody can catch the baby).  A woman who is truly having a natural childbirth, can not be disrupted at this time.  She is so primal, so instinctual.  There is almost nothing anybody can do to bring her out of this.  Just push.  You'll know how when you get there.

CONGRATULATIONS!  You had your beautiful baby! 
Now let's get writing. 
Your baby is no longer protected in your womb.  You are high as a kite with love and joy. 
This is where, I believe, you need to give step by step, moment by moment direction.  This is your baby.  You are the only one who has this amazing connection with him/her.  You need to protect your baby. 
Everything from umbilical cord care, to newborn exams, to breastfeeding.  Write it down.  Write it all down.  And bring 40 signed copies with you.  Have your partner and doula hand them out to every staff member they see.
You may think I am going overboard about this...but you are the protector of your baby.  Protect them.

So your birth plan is written.  Your L&D nurses will probably be pretty respectful and leave you alone, because you did the same for them.  This will make for an enjoyable birthing experience.  After the baby is born, it doesn't really matter how crazy the nurses think you are.  The only thing that matters is that your baby is in your arms.  Don't let that baby go. 
Go home.
Enjoy motherhood.

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