Google “birth plan” and you’ll find a whole slew of guides and sample birth plans. My gynae doesn’t really see the point of a birth plan but I think it’s a document that helps you to better understand the delivery process. Some people (like what I did initially), copy and paste the sample birth plans with only a few minor edits. Others (like what I did after learning more about each bullet point) make it a point to really understand and customize their birth plan.
On a higher level, it also helps the more anal first-time mommies feel like they are in control of this completely unknown trauma that will soon be inflicted on their bodies. Yes, I know to say that the birthing process is a huge trauma on the body seems to be a little dramatic given the beautiful bundle of joy you will get after the process. But the pain and suffering the mommy goes through should not be undermined. A friend mentioned how she was in induced labor for nearly three days and almost needed blood transfusion post-delivery. Even a short labor is at least 3-5 hours and something tells me I’m not one of these lucky mommies.
Some suggestions as you develop your own birth plan:
- Understand the different pain management options available to you in your country. In Singapore, it’s usually laughing gas, pethidine and epidural for natural delivery. Also consult your gynae as he/she may be pro or anti epidural. It’s important that you are on the same page.
- Understand that episiotomy is a common procedure for Asian women. We’re just smaller down there and the space between our anus and the vagina is a lot smaller so any uncontrolled tears are a lot more dangerous to us. A good gynae will know when and whether it is necessary to make the controlled cut.
- If natural delivery is not possible, you may want to ask that the screen is lowered so you can see the baby being delivered (a friend mentioned she saw the entire process from a mirror above the operating table), and that the baby is given to your husband immediately after birth if not in distress.
- Consider post delivery details such as whether you and your husband would like him to cut the umbilical cord, reminding the nurses to apply pressure on your uterus (to help dispel blood), requesting for the baby to be placed on your chest immediately to try latching (helps spur milk production and calms the baby), and informing the doc about your placentaand umbilical cord (cord blood bank storage?) decisions.
- If you decide that you want to rely only on breast milk while in the hospital, know that some hospitals may then not offer you free formula milk samples to try out at home. Also, if the baby doesn’t latch on well, you may have to request for formula milk separately each time the baby needs a feeding. But don’t worry too much about feeding the baby sufficiently in the first few days because they don’t usually have a huge appetite given that they haven’t poo-ed in 30+ weeks.
A birth plan is a work in progress until the very last minute because you may learn new things or perspectives from other mommies that change your mind on what to include or specify in great detail. When handing it to the nurse/midwife, be sure to explain that you trust their judgment and expertise, and that the birth plan is mainly a way for you to better understand your options. The last thing I want is to have a nurse/midwife think that I am a smart aleck and not provide me with advise should the birthing process take on any unexpected turns.