Leading up to labor and delivery, women are encouraged to think through their preferences, desires, and hopes for their birth experience. However, to ensure the best birth experience, women should focus on a balance between planning ahead of time and understanding that successful labor and delivery requires flexibility.
Ditch the word “plan”
As Michelle Beebe, MPH, BSN, CCE, manager of Perinatal Outreach for Kettering Health Network, says, “A birth plan should be viewed as a conversation tool between the provider, care team, and the patient, with the ultimate goal of a healthy mom and healthy baby.”
Viewing a birth plan as a conversation piece can help the laboring woman’s mindset. Providers always aim to follow a woman’s birth preferences. Still, labor can involve emergent situations that can’t be predicted, and having a healthy baby takes priority.
Thinking through preferences can help the experience go more smoothly.
Mobility: Is mobility during labor important to you? At Kettering Health Network, labor and delivery suites have labor tubs available for women who would like to use them. However, women who want or need epidurals may not be able to get up and walk around the room during labor.
Pain relief options: Nonmedical pain relief options could include breathing strategies, relaxation, visualization, or massage. Medical options could include epidural anesthesia or analgesics.
Kettering and Soin medical centers offer nitrous oxide to laboring women. Nitrous oxide is a mixture of nitrous gas and oxygen that can be self-administered through a mask by breathing in with the contraction and stopping when the contraction is over.
Baby care: Thinking through post-birth baby care involves important details. What are your preferences regarding the umbilical cord? If you have a boy, do you want him to be circumcised? Do you have preferences regarding breastfeeding, pacifiers, bottles, or formula?
Adaptability is key
In childbirth education classes offered through Kettering Health Network, women learn about birth options and are empowered to talk to their provider about preferences and realistic expectations. Michelle stresses that women should consider enrolling in childbirth classes during their second trimester, when they tend to have more energy and have plenty of provider visits left to ask questions.
Women who have open communication with their provider ahead of time tend to have more positive outcomes and better experiences. “The biggest key to having a great labor experience is being flexible,” says Michelle. “Both on the part of the care team and the mom.”
Prepare for delivery
Whether you’re a first-time mom or already have children, navigating pregnancy, delivery, and newborn care can be overwhelming. Register for our free Baby Fair on September 29 to learn more about all you need to know from pregnancy to parenting.