Sunday, September 29, 2013

MY FIRST PREGNANCY - Planning

BIRTH PLANS & DOULAS

One of the many scary parts of labor, at least for a first timer, is not knowing what’s going to happen other than “I’ll have painful contractions and eventually have to push a giant baby out of a small orifice”. If you take a class, you will learn about what to expect from the experience. In that class, you’ll be asked, or at least advised, to make a birth plan.

A birth plan is basically a bulleted list of what you want during labor. Things like whether or not you want an epidural or some other drug for pain relief, who you want present during labor and delivery, what positions you want to labor in, where you want the baby after he/she is out (get cleaned up first or directly on you), and other related things.

My birth plan basically had line after line of “I want…” or “I don’t want…” though maybe phrased a little more politely. I didn’t want drugs to even be offered and I wanted no intervention or augmentation. Everything on mine leaned towards “just leave me alone so my body can work its magic”.

The only other important thing on it was that I wanted immediate skin on skin contact once my baby girl was out and that I wanted her to room in with me. Luckily the hospital was “baby friendly” and that was already in their policy. The Baby Friendly Initiative makes hospitals much more conducive to natural childbirth and breastfeeding, so I was very happy we were on the same page.

I’ve since learned that the primary purpose of a birth plan is for the couple. My doctor/midwife(s) honestly never cared much about it, and it was never looked at in the hospital. It helps you get your desires and expectations in order for what you want the experience to be like so you can express that to whoever delivers. Just remember that this is one of those things in life that you can’t plan. After all, the baby never read your birth plan, so he/she is going to come in their own time however they please.

Another thing that helps take the fear out of labor, as well as helping with labor itself, is a doula. You might learn about a doula in a birthing class, or at least hear of one, but that’s not guaranteed. My definition of a doula is a birth assistant separate from your birth coach (who in my case was my husband). She can help with labor positions, support you and your partner in little things like food and drinks, generally anything you might need. As an example, in my case, she helped me with my breathing, some labor positions, and even held one of my legs and held my head up while I pushed.

Because we were taking a Bradley class so Greg could be my birthing coach, we debated whether or not we needed a doula. In the end, we decided we wanted one as a safety net. However, our search for one was daunting because in our area, we were only finding ones that were like $900. With all due respect to the profession, we just weren’t paying that much.

In our class, we had a guest who shared her birth story who happened to be a doula. She talked some about it and mentioned a list you could get on where newer doulas look for clients. This sounded like something we wanted because they would be cheaper and we’re jerks like that.

She put us on the list and we got some quick responses within a couple days. Three ended up coming to our home to meet with us and it made for a very difficult decision. They were all very nice and each had their perks and experiences, so we liked all of them. Ultimately we went with the one that we were just the most comfortable with. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. The cool thing was that we were her first solo birth which I feel added an extra bond. She turned out to be an amazing decision, because she’s awesome and I don’t know if I could’ve done it without her.


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