Giving birth is a life-changing event. Choosing a birth plan is an individual decision that needs to go along with your wants, needs and beliefs. Developing a birth plan can help you to prepare for both the emotional and physical aspects of labor and delivery. Whether you go au natural or opt for assistance during labor and delivery, you and your medical professional will work together to pick the plan that works best for your situation.
Pick a Professional
One of the primary parts of your birth plan is choosing who you
want to deliver your baby. You have a few different options, including an
obstetrician or a nurse midwife specialist. A certified nurse midwife is a
highly trained medical professional who has a graduate degree in midwifery and
has passed the American Midwifery Certification Board, according to the
American College of Nurse-Midwives' Our Moment of Truth website. Choosing
whether to go with a doctor or nurse specialist is a highly personal decision,
and may depend on what your medical situation is, where you want to deliver and
your own comfort level.
Where to Deliver
While a popular choice, hospitals aren't the only places to
deliver your child. Your birth plan should include where you want to deliver
your baby. The primary options include a hospital or medical center, a birth
center or a home birth. If you have medical complications, have a high-risk
pregnancy or are having pain medication or anesthesia, you'll need to choose a
hospital, according to the website KidsHealth. If you have no medical reason or
suspected complications, and feel that the hospital environment is too cold for
your baby's birth, a birth center provides a more home-like place to go natural.
Most birth centers use certified nurse midwives and have medications, IVs and
oxygen available to use if necessary. Likewise, a certified nurse midwife
typically delivers the baby during a home birth.
If you want to lessen the pain of labor and delivery, your birth
plan would include what medications or anesthesia you want to use. During labor
and delivery you can choose an injectable or IV pain relief medication, such as
a narcotic or an anesthesia-based option, such as an epidural. The American
College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes that systemic pain relievers
dull the entire nervous system and may temporarily lower your baby's heart
rate. An epidural is anesthesia administered through an IV in your spine, and
will dull sensations from the waist down. An epidural may have some side
effects, such as a headache or temporarily decreasing your blood pressure, but
has no real effect on the baby.
During a natural childbirth, the mother labors without the
assistance of pain medication. Although you would have no pharmacological help,
you will still use strategies or techniques to manage the pain. Obstetrician
Allison Devine notes that hypnobirthing -- self-hypnotizing oneself -- can
relax you and help you to manage the pain, but you'll need training to learn
this method. Some mothers choose the Lamaze method, which includes relaxation
and conscious breathing. Conscious breathing refers to slow, deliberate
breathing that can help to reduce the heart rate and pain during labor,
according to registered nurse Judith A. Lothian and childbirth writer Charlote
DeVries. You can learn to master these and other methods in specialized
childbirth education classes offered at your local hospital or birthing center.