Whether it’s your first child or your fifth, making a birth plan is a key part of having a baby. What is a birth plan? It is exactly what it sounds like: a plan that communicates your desires and preferences for before, during, and directly after labor and delivery.
Write your preferences down
“I always advise women start by writing all their ideas down,” says Rhonda Conley, APRN-CNM, certified nurse midwife with Kettering Physician Network Women’s Health. “Who do you want with you? Do you want to be in a labor tub? Do you want to walk? Do you want to be on a birthing ball? Do you plan on going unmedicated, or are you okay with nitrous oxide or IV medicine? Are you interested in an epidural?” Rhonda recommends bringing this list to the prenatal appointment for discussion with the woman’s health care provider.
“Many women find sample birth plans online that they then can modify and personalize. It’s also important to think through your preferences if things don’t go exactly according to plan,” says Rhonda. “Sometimes things don’t go exactly as we plan, and it’s important to be flexible for all situations.”
What role does a midwife play?
Midwives provide full-scope gynecologic and obstetric care for women from puberty through menopause, including well-woman gynecologic care, family planning consultations and contraception, and prenatal, pregnancy, and birthing care. Midwives see patients throughout pregnancy to develop a relationship with the mom-to-be and discuss desires and plans for labor and birth. “During birth, we’re the cheerleaders,” says Rhonda, “We reinforce that she can get through this, she is strong, her body knows what it’s doing. Midwives are constantly watching out for the well-being of mom and the well-being of her baby.”
Rhonda points out that many people still have a misconception that midwives only do home births and unmedicated births. However, this is not the case. “Most midwives’ patients deliver in the hospital,” says Rhonda. “And while midwives encourage physiological birth and letting things happen naturally, we are supportive of a woman’s right to choose pain medication or an epidural if that’s her desire.”
Involving women in decision-making
Rhonda underscores that midwives emphasize involving women in the decision-making of their care. “I think that’s one of the strengths of midwifery,” she says. “We encourage every woman to voice her wants and desires and we aim to respect those wishes in every way we can.”
Visit ketteringhealth.org/midwife to learn more about midwives or call (937) 429-7350 to schedule an appointment.