Birth Planning 101
When you are expecting a baby, there is a lot to do! From staying healthy during your pregnancy to preparing to take your newborn home. Of course, there is also the delivery itself, which is where your birth plan comes in. A birth plan is the best way to plan and organize your labor and delivery. It will help you be fully prepared for the decisions you will need to make during this exciting time. Your birth plan is a checklist of preferences for personal comfort, medical procedures, and bonding with your baby. It guides the conversation with your OB-GYN, midwife, doula and hospital so they understand your ideal birth experience.
Keep in mind that a birth plan is just that – a plan. Since you cannot predict everything with certainty once labor begins, you or your doctors may need to make changes to the plan along the way. For example, the COVID19 pandemic has changed the delivery game plan for many expectant mothers when it comes to people that can be present for labor and delivery. This added stress makes it even more important to discuss some important medical decisions with your partner and physician prior to giving birth.
Packing Your Hospital Go-Bag
Your birth plan is a great first step in deciding what to pack in your hospital go-bag. It’s a good idea to think about the things you would like to bring with you to relax and enjoy the experience and start setting them aside. This way, when the moment arrives you won’t be scrambling for all the things you would like to have with you during labor and delivery. Since the hospital or birthing center may not have everything you need, it’s good to start thinking about the things to pack in your hospital bag. Some things to consider are what you would like to wear, music or photos you would like to bring, and any birthing assistance you may want.
It’s also a good time to think about what you plan to do with your child’s cord blood, which contains potentially lifesaving stem cells. You have three options to consider – donate, privately bank, or discard your child’s cord blood. It’s important to know your options so you can be prepared with a free collection kit should you choose to save your child’s stem cells for future use.
Recruiting Your Support Team
In planning for the delivery of your child, it’s important for the medical team to understand who you would like in the room to be sure they can accommodate your loved ones. Some hospitals limit the number of people to two or three, so you may have to prioritize. You’ll also want to be sure you have the right people on speed dial when it is time to head to the hospital or birthing center. Unforeseen events can change this plan, but it is important to have a starting point so your loved ones know what to expect.
Planning Your Labor
With labor comes pain and discomfort, so researching relaxation techniques and pain management options in advance will make your decisions easier when the times comes. Options for pain medications vary in terms of how quickly they work, whether they enter your baby’s bloodstream, and how they affect your ability to push. You also have several natural techniques that may require some practice to get them right such as acupuncture, acupressure, and breathing exercises.
Delivery Room Decisions
After you deliver your child, you’ll also need to deliver your placenta. You have the option of delivering it naturally or with assistance. Your doctor or midwife may suggest a shot of pitocin to facilitate delivering the placenta and to minimize hemorrhaging after the baby is born. They can also use controlled traction, pulling on the umbilical cord while contracting the uterus. It is a good idea to discuss your options with your OB-GYN or midwife to understand your options.
Delivering Your Placenta
Though not nearly as exciting as your newborn, your placenta is a pretty spectacular thing. Weighing in at about one-fifth the size of your newborn, your placenta provided nourishment and oxygen to your growing child for 40 weeks. Once routinely disposed of by hospitals, these days a growing number of women are consuming their placentas believing it has health benefits, such as boosting energy levels, stabilizing postpartum hormonal ups and downs, and helping with milk production. You have the choice of taking your placenta home for spiritual or health reasons, encapsulating your placenta, or discarding it.
What To Do With The Umbilical Cord
There are also decisions to make about your child’s umbilical cord! For nine months, your placenta has been delivering everything your child needs through that incredible cord, packed full of stem cells, red and white blood cells, even disease-fighting T-cells. It is important to take time to think about what to do with the blood that is left in your child’s umbilical cord to be sure it is put to the best use. You have the option of delaying cord clamping to push more of those stem cells into your newborn and the option of saving their stem cells for future use through cord blood banking. In preparing your birth plan for these important decisions it’s best to review your options with your OB-GYN or midwife.
Bonding with Your Baby
Labor and delivery are both exhilarating and exhausting. Once your newborn arrives, you’ll want to consider several firsts – the first time you hold your baby, their first bath, the first time you feed your child. You will want to be sure to do what feels right for you, rather than relying on what others think. You will also have to consider how much time to spend with your newborn balancing bonding time with your need for rest and recovery after childbirth.
Newborn Medical Procedures
It is a good idea to be prepared for the routine medical procedures that come with childbirth, including vaccines, hearing screenings, antibiotic eye medications, immunizations, and circumcision. These decisions may feel overwhelming, unless you have spent time to understand your options.
Digital Birth Plan
To make the process easier, Cord for Life has created a digital birth plan with all the things you will need to consider in planning for the birth of your child. It is easier to fill out online or offline and simple to print and share with your doctor and family.