A satisfying birth experience is directly related to the control you feel over the birth experience itself. Part of achieving a sense of control comes from careful preparation. Some questions to keep in mind even before your first prenatal appointment will help you in the preparation of your birth:
- Do I want a natural un-medicated birth?
- Do I want to deliver my baby in a birthing room?
- Who do I want with me at the birth? (i.e.. Husband, children, friend, midwife, doula or birth assistant)
- Will we ever be separated?
- When will I go to the birth place?
- How will my baby be monitored in labor?
- What prepping procedures will I go through?
- How would I feel about being induced or having my membranes ruptured?
- Do I know the pro’s and con’s of these procedures?
- Is freedom of movement during labour and being able to adapt different positions for delivery important to you? (i.e.. Kneeling, being on your hands and knees, squatting)
- How will I push?
- Is water birth available and would I like to try it?
- Will there be time limits on the length of my labor or pushing?
- How would you feel about having an episiotomy?
- Under what conditions would I accept interventions such as a cesarean or forceps use?
- Would I like the baby handed directly to me immediately following birth?
- Will I want pictures to be taken or a video tape recording of the event?
- Would I like to nurse the baby as soon as he or she is ready?
- Who would I like to cut the cord and when?
- Will the baby ever be taken from the parents?
- Do I want to breastfeed my baby? If so, for how long?
- When will you go home if you are in a hospital/birth center?
- What role do I want to play in decision making?
These questions may be overwhelming to you, however, the more you can think about these things and openly discuss them with your caregiver, the more likely you are to have a positive birth. You need to take some kind of class to know what the consequences of each of these is. Your own idea’s and needs will evolve as you read more and get to know your caregiver better, be sure to continue discussing your wishes with your caregiver throughout your pregnancy.
Once you’ve established your own thoughts about the kind of birth you want, it is time to put your thoughts on paper and write a birth plan. List your choices in order of priority – most important first. This is how most medical people think. Are your choices realistic? Are most of your choices openly supported by your birth team? If not, will you compromise or make other arrangements?
The SOGC (Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada) recommends you break your list down into these headings:
- Your support people
- Your preferences about pain control
- Medical interventions during labour
- Second stage and delivery
- Most important issues
- Concerns and fears
- Infant feedings