As your due date approaches, the next critical step is start thinking about the birth. While the actual birthing process may be uncertain, it is important to become aware of what will make you most comfortable as you give birth. Creating a birth plan gives you the opportunity to become familiar with relevant terms, such as “membrane stripping” or knowing whether you’d like your placenta encapsulated. Understanding the terminology is crucial in order to avoid medical interventions you might not want later.
Here are 9 things to consider before you give birth:
- What kind of birth are you hoping for? Natural, spiritual, quiet, non-invasive, epidural or a planned c-section?
- Who is part of your birth team? Partner, birth coach (doula), your mother, your best friend? Make sure your OB/midwife is okay with having more than one birth partner in the delivery room.
- What comfort measures would you like? Just to name a few: would you prefer to have music, food (make sure your OB approves of snacking during labor- most don’t), no IV fluids, massage, aromatherapy or acupuncture?
- When would you like to get induced (if ever)? Would you prefer a week past your due date or longer? Or are you okay when your OB wants to induce you on your due date? In addition, would you like to try natural induction methods first, such as teas, membrane stripping or acupuncture?
- Are you okay having your fetus monitored constantly during labor? Most moms prefer to be able to move around and have only intermittent monitoring.
- What position would you like for the actual delivery of your baby? Some birthing options include squatting, hands-and-knees, water-birth, and side-lying. Depending on what you are hoping for, check with your OB/midwife if they are doing non-supine positions.
- How would you want the placenta to be handled? Delayed cord-clamping, placenta-encapsulation or cord blood banking are options to consider.
- Would you like to have your newborn on your chest right away? Or are you planning on seeing the baby after it’s cleaned up.
- Are you okay with your baby getting medications/shots after birth? Some US states require a Hepatitis B vaccination after birth. Vitamin K shots are mandatory, while antibiotic eye-cream for your little one can usually be discussed. Make sure you know before the birth what your baby will be getting.
Though this may feel like a daunting and extensive list, work through the questions with your birth team to craft the birthing experience that you want and are comfortable with. Knowing what you want is the first step in creating the experience you want.
Stephanie Heintzeler is a German educated midwife, acupuncturist and US-educated doula. Born in New York City but raised in Germany, Stephanie found her enthusiasm for midwifery at 12 years old when her brother was born. She successfully finished her midwifery-exam in 2000 in the Black Forest of Germany. After moving back to New York in 2003, her book “New Yorker Geschichten” (“New York Stories”) was published, and she then began her own Doula business after becoming certified with DONA in 2006. For more information, visit her website: www.thenewyorkdoula.com