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Birth Fears, Expectations and A Plan

Apologies if you receive this post twice. It posted this morning before I was quite ready – oops! I added some things, but didn’t take away anything. Blog burp!

Apparently birth plans have become a controversial subject. Some of the books I’ve read completely support them (like Natural Hospital Birth) and some have basically said, “What’s the point?” (like Birthing From Within). I like to be a bit prepared AND our midwife recommends covering some basics in a written plan, such as if we want to breastfeed and how we want Vitamin K delivered (there are several options these days!).

I really liked the strategy suggested in Natural Hospital Birth about having three birth plans (fantasy, reality, abridged hospital version). I’m going to just stick with two, though: one that gets Mr. Handsome and I on the same page and one written version for the hospital staff to keep on file.

Before I get to our expectations for this birth, though, I thought I’d “talk” out some of my fears about birth. First off, I feel a thousand times better about this impending birth than I did in the weeks leading up to my first birth with Kiddo1. Nine years ago I was freaked out beyond comprehension! All I could focus on was how much it was going to hurt. Because of this, my birth plan was basically, “Give me the epidural as soon as humanly possible.” (Actually, my birth plan was pretty hilarious with lots of unnecessary stuff like, “I would like dim lights and soft music.” My OB even laughed at me a little bit.)

Nine years later (haha, had to sneak that in!), I don’t really fear pain. Having made it through a birth before, I know more of what to expect which helps me feel way, WAY more comfortable. I believe that I have the power to make it through this time. I believe this because my last labor was assisted with Pitocin, making the contractions way more frequent and intense. Also, I made it to 9 cm before getting the epidural, so I know I can push (haha, pun intended) just past that mark this time. I also believe that the pushing phase will go faster because I’ll be able to feel what’s going on (I didn’t have any feeling whatsoever last time).

Despite the increased level of comfort and knowledge this time around, I still have fears. I fear that I won’t be in control. I fear that my wishes won’t be followed because I won’t be able to make them known. I fear the “fog of labor” which will impair my ability to communicate.

I know I can alleviate my fear, though. I can talk to Mr. Handsome, in depth, about my desires and his expectations. I know that Mr. Handsome will be a great supporter and will fulfill every need I have. He did an amazing job last time without any real direction from me whatsoever. I need to give up my need for control and allow him to take over. I need to trust him to do what’s best for me. I recognize that my fear lies with my own willingness to let go, not his capability to do what I need.

So what are my own expectations then? Well, I need to make myself move around, change positions, etc, but I expect myself to get lazy and fight that a bit (last time all I wanted to do was lay on my side and cry/scream). So I’ve asked Mr. Handsome to keep me moving. I want to get in the birth pool, but I don’t know when I’ll be ready for it. I’ve told Mr. Handsome that the pool should be filled when I’m able to get in (5-6 cm) but I may not want to get in right away.

As for everything else, I’m trying to just keep an open mind and not expect too much. I have ideas for birth positions but I don’t know which one I’ll like or will work best in the moment. I want to try to remain as relaxed as possible about the whole thing. We’ll see how that goes!

I’m keeping myself sane and giving myself license to relax because we have a birth plan. The hospital philosophies very much align with what I’m wanting, so my birth plan should cover any lingering questions the staff has. Also, I’ve been reading up on tips for the hospital birth plan. Here’s a couple things I’ve learned:

  • Keep it short. Nobody has time to read a twelve-page treatise – it’s more likely that things will get overlooked this way, too. But a short, well-organized plan will allow the staff to follow your wishes more closely.
  • Be nice! A negative plan that says “I don’t want this” and “I don’t want that” feels very, well, negative to the staff. Frame desires in a positive manner: instead of “I don’t want to be confined to a bed,” state, “I would like to be as mobile as possible during labor.” (There are a couple exceptions that our midwife told us to specifically add, such as declining an IV/hep lock and eye ointment.)
  • Don’t belittle the staff. Don’t tell them how to do their jobs.
  • Avoid ambiguous statements such as “I prefer” or “If necessary.” Be assertive! But still nice.
  • Customize it! Don’t just take one of those “form plans” off the internet and check some boxes and call it good. Really think about what you want, what is necessary to ask for and what your priorities are.

So here it is, the Hospital Birth Plan:

  • During labor:
    • I would like to be as mobile as possible.
    • I would like to avoid pain medication. Please do not ask about pain levels.
    • I would like to enter the birth pool when appropriate.
  • During delivery:
    • I would like to give birth in water.
    • I would like my husband to be in the pool, “catch” our baby and bring her to the surface.
  • Immediately after delivery:
    • I would like to donate cord blood and preserve the placenta (for encapsulation).
    • I would like to exclusively breast feed.
  • Infant care:
    • We prefer a family practice consult to evaluate our baby post-delivery.
    • Please administer Vitamin K via injection.
    • Please do not provide eye ointment.
    • We would like the Hepatitis B immunization. We were immunized for Whooping Cough (TDap) at 36 weeks gestation.

I think we’re ready for this. Mr. Handsome and I have talked about it (and will probably continue to talk about it here and there). We have everything written down. All the reading I’ve done has mentally prepared me very well. Now we just have to get down the aisle, so to speak.

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