It can be difficult to think clearly or make meaningful decisions during labor and delivery. That is why it is so important to think through the elements of labor and delivery and consider your options before the big day arrives. When you arrive at the hospital, you’ll be able to clearly express your preferences to your care providers.
Some expecting parents choose to create a written plan for their birth and this can be a helpful way for many parents to organize their thoughts. But the most important part is talking to your doctor or midwife throughout your pregnancy and developing a trusting relationship with him or her. Share your thoughts and hopes about your birth throughout your pregnancy and also when you meet your labor and delivery nurse at the hospital.
While it helpful to plan, it is also important to realize that every birth is different and sometimes the process does not go as planned. Your circumstances – and even your own preferences – might change quickly during labor and delivery. Your doctor, nurse or midwife may also have recommendations that are not in your plan.
Flexibility is key. After all, the real goal is not following a plan perfectly but having a safe and healthy delivery. Understanding the process, trusting yourself and your body, and relying on your support person and health care team, will help you be comfortable, informed and empowered to ensure the wellbeing of you and your baby.
Below are a few areas to consider discussing with your team:
Introduction: Introduce yourself, your support person(s), your family.
Support: Specify who your support person or people are. Give some detail; is this person hands-on or shy? Do they get queasy? Also, make it clear who is allowed in the room during your labor and delivery.
Preferences and Intervention: discuss with your doctor or midwife how decisions are made during labor and delivery and what things you may be able to choose depending on you and your baby’s condition.
Pain Management: Include your specific preferences regarding medications, epidural, narcotics, and natural techniques such as movement, positioning and relaxation.
Health History: If necessary, share any recent health issues, concerns, procedures that you want your labor and delivery nurse and OB to know about.
Following Birth: Immediate skin to skin contact, cutting of the umbilical cord, breastfeeding and circumcision.