Giving birth is more art than science. Like a painter’s sketch, a birth plan that focuses on key preferences can help when the lines get a little fuzzy and the colors are intense.
“Most things people ask for are easy to accommodate,” says Dr. Wendy Clinger, a Lake Health gynecologist in Willoughby. “But take it with a grain of salt and be flexible.”
Clinger and Dr. Julian Peskin, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Cleveland Clinic in Beachwood, share five essential things to consider for your birth plan.
Thinking about who will be in the room helps an expectant mother have a more relaxing environment.
“If you have a well-meaning but loud party with grandmas and grandpas, it takes away from the energy and focus mom needs,” says Clinger.
So some moms keep the deliver circle small, limiting it to the father, partner or other key person such as a mother or sister. Adding favorite music and dimming the lights can also calm the mood.
At teaching hospitals, Peskin says, medical students may want to observe. But it’s ultimately up to the mom whether they’re allowed in her room. If a mom wants extra support, Peskin encourages enlisting a doula.
Most know an epidural is an option to relieve labor pains, but there are multiple ways to ease discomfort. Massage, a warm bath, exercise balls, ice packs, rocking chairs and nitrous oxide (laughing gas) can be alternatives.
“Once you have an epidural, it limits your mobility,” says Clinger.
Stasis can slow delivery. But by late-stage labor, she says, four out of five women typically take an epidural.
Mothers often want the freedom to walk around during labor without constantly being monitored or hooked up to an IV.
“As long as baby and mom are healthy, it’s no problem to have intermittent monitoring,” says Peskin.
Fathers or a key support person are encouraged to attend and ask questions at prenatal appointments. This helps with expectations before and during labor.
“It’s always good to have two heads listening to the same questions and help each other think of details and follow-up questions,” says Clinger.
Once the baby arrives, your job isn’t completely done. Does the partner want to cut the umbilical cord? Does the mom want immediate skin-to-skin contact with the baby?
“A lot of research says if baby has skin to skin in the first one or two hours, it can stabilize baby’s blood sugar, breathing and help with starting breast-feeding,” says Clinger.