Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Guest Mama :: Creating a Birth Plan

Happy Tuesday mamas!

Here's what you do:
1. Write a post about ANYTHING baby {or pregnancy} related.
2. Add my button to your post.
3. Link your post with the link-up tool found at the end of all of my posts.

I'm really excited about today's guest post, because I think having a birth plan is an important part of pregnancy and childbirth. I shared my birth plan with Kenley and while things didn't go exactly as planned I was so happy I wrote it. Whether you print it out and bring it to the hospital or just use it as a way to brainstorm what you want for your birth and discuss those desires with your hubby - I think it's time well spent. I used mine as a way to share what I wanted with Jason and my doctor so that they could advocate for me when I wasn't thinking entirely clearly, so pretty much from first contraction on. 

Melissa has some GREAT information on things to consider including in your birth plan, so enjoy! 


Hi everyone! I’m excited to be here at Mama and Mou to share what I’ve learned through my birth experiences. My name is Melissa Woods, and I am a blogger at Welcome to the Woods. I blog for the homemaker in you; my posts include DIY projects, financial advice, and parenting tips. I hope you enjoy this post and stop by to check out my blog!

After having two children and two very different birth experiences, I thought I would share 5 things I think are beneficial to include in your birth plan. I know everyone has different ideas about birth, so these are just coming from my opinion, experience, and research.

1. Delayed cord clamping
Delayed cord clamping involves the umbilical cord staying attached to baby and placenta staying intact immediately after birth for about 5 minutes. This benefits the baby by allowing fluids (especially blood) that were being shared between baby and placenta to drain back into the baby's body. Delayed cord clamping eases the transition into the world. This video does a wonderful job explaining why it is a good idea to delay cord clamping:

From personal experience, my first child (girl), who we allowed the doctor to do standard immediate cord clamping for, developed jaundice. My second child (boy), who we did delayed cord clamping with, did not.

2. Exercise
Listen, I know some people opt to get an epidural or other pain medication at the start of labor and this does not allow them to get up to move around, but hear me out. Standing, swaying, walking, balancing on a birthing ball and other exercise during labor drastically improves pain and helps the labor progress faster. Sitting on a bed is not the best position for labor. You are putting weight on your bottom, right where the baby is trying to come out! When you stand, gravity helps you to handle the feeling of baby's descent. If you still want to get an epidural, my advice would be to hold out until you can't anymore. It will expedite your labor greatly.
From personal experience, my first I labored sitting on a hospital bed the whole time until the pain was so unbearable I got an epidural. Labor was 5 hours long. With my second, I stood and swayed and walked and knelt and moved the entire labor and it provided so much relief (along with my doula offering massage) that I did not use any pain killers. Labor was 3 hours long.

3. Immediate skin-to-skin contact 

  Most doctors place baby on Mom's tummy right after delivery. This is great, but take it one step further and have the first thing your baby feels be your soft familiar smelling skin. All a newborn wants the first seconds is to be close to its mother. Don't put things between you like clothes or blankets. Spend baby's first hour just holding, cuddling, and feeding. Immediate skin-to-skin contact has been shown to increase chances of successful breastfeeding, encourage Mom's milk production, help baby stabilize breathing and nervous system functions, and strengthen the mother-infant bond. It is used as therapy for premature babies, but ALL newborns can reap the benefits of skin-to-skin. And don't be self conscious about having an exposed belly during labor; the people in a delivery room have seen it all.

From personal experience, my first was set on my tummy briefly, then whisked away to be bathed and swaddled. We tried breastfeeding about an hour after delivery and it went okay. She was groggy from the epidural and wasn't orientated to the outside of my body. She was never a great eater and then developed jaundice; breastfeeding was a real struggle the first month. With my second, as soon as he came out, we were skin to skin. Within twenty minutes he wiggled himself to my breast and started feeding. Our first feeding was phenomenal and he's been a great eater ever since.

4. Opposition to an Episiotomy
An episiotomy is a surgical slit your physician makes on your perineum (the space between your vagina and anus) to facilitate baby coming out near the end of delivery. They are not considered standard practice, but they used to be and unfortunately some physicians still regularly perform them. The reason this is unfortunate is because episiotomies are difficult to heal from, can easily get infected or tear dramatically, cause more severe tearing in future births, etc, etc. Ultimately, episiotomies are something that should be avoided unless necessary. It sounds bad, but there are practitioners out there who will perform an episiotomy just to speed things along. My first born was delivered by a physician with this mentality. Write it in your birth plan and talk to your provider about what circumstances might warrant an episiotomy. Natural vaginal tearing is almost always more preferable.

From personal experience, with my first I did not have a birth plan and did not even know what an episiotomy was. During the pushing phase, I felt a slice and suddenly my daughter fell out. I was mostly numb from the epidural when I was sewn up. I had no idea why my episiotomy was performed, except that my physician rushed off to deliver another baby a few minutes after mine. With my second, I had told them I did not want an episiotomy. I knew the physician thought about it because he double checked with my doula at the last second saying, "No episiotomy, right?" I had very minor tearing and healed wonderfully in four, not six weeks.

5. A Doula
This one I didn't learned until going through labor once. With my first, I had complete faith in myself and trust that my support person (hubby) were a dynamic team ready to take on labor. My labor and delivery with my first was not a poor experience, but there were many things that would have went better if I had a doula. A doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth. My doula was phenomenal at helping me through every stage of labor and delivery. My experience with my second made me see the huge benefits of having someone knowledgeable advocate for you during one of the most difficult and precious times of your life. Please consider hiring a doula, and if you're in central MN, contact the wonderful doula I used via doulamatch.net or on facebook.

Photo credit NV Photography, courtesy of www.thegreatletdown.com

From personal experience, my first birth experience was a blur because I had a vague plan. When bad things happened, no one was there to offer solutions. During labor with my first, I did not breathe deeply, I was not in optimal birthing positions, I did not manage my pain, I gave in to a medicated birth that I didn't want, I experienced periodic deafness, and I was disappointed with the choices made during the labor process on my behalf and that of the staff. Having a doula along with my second, all of those things were turned around, plus I had a coach, an emotional rock, a masseuse to manage the pain, and a knowledgeable advocate for the medical circumstances that arise which you just can't foresee. I felt elated, empowered, strong, and so proud after my delivery experience with my second, all because I had a doula.

These are just a few of the many choices moms are faced with when having a baby. This is not intended to be medical advice; I am not a medical professional. Do your own research, write down a birth plan, and consider including these five things.

Thanks for reading and thank you to Kristin for having me at Mama and Mou. Visit my blog http://www.welcome-to-the-woods.com to see more!


To submit a birth story or guest post - email me at mamaandmou@gmail.com


Bethie The Boo said...

I couldn't agree more with these! The only thing that went un-planned in terms of our birth plan is we didn't actually have time to give it to the nurses by the time we got to the hospital! I'm glad we wrote it out though, it definitely got us on the same page and helped a ton on the actual day.

Carolyn said...

This is a great list!!

Jessica said...

I did not have a birth plan with my son, and everything went well. Along with my doctors, I had a midwife - she was a big advocate for mommies and babies, so the skin-to-skin time, avoiding an episiotomy, and physical activity during labor were all things she encouraged. However, after reading about your first birth experience, I see that I was very lucky and that things could have gone South very quickly for me since I did not take a proactive measure about telling my physicians and nurses what I wanted. Will definitely have a birth plan the next time around!

Ashley @ Life on the Parsons Farm said...

I have never heard of delayed cord clamping. That sounds like something right up my alley! As well as not having an episiotomy is also in my future birth plan - should I ever be able to carry a baby to term.


Allison said...

Yay for a place to post about baby everything!!! I will have to link up! :)

Fred said...

This blog post is really amazing. I've enjoyed reading guest mama creation birth plan each views a lot. I must say that image mom and baby together is truly adorable. They look really beautiful. Thanks.

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