By Neil Salas, MD
Women play an active role in their health care decisions more than ever before and the birth of their child is no exception.
Birth plans are growing in popularity among expectant moms as a tool that allows them to verbalize what is important to them, and what allows them to feel safe, supported and confident during labor. A birth plan can be a simple, one-page statement that indicates a woman’s preferences for her birthing experience.
The plan can help a mom-to-be feel more in control over her birthing experience — both during labor and after delivery. The plan can include a wide range of directives that allow for adjustment of her birthing room and environment, the degree of monitoring and interventions, as well as the patient’s desires immediately after the birth of her baby.
It’s important that a woman creates her birthing plan early in her pregnancy so she has time to discuss it with her provider. A woman’s provider will be able to tell her if her plans can be carried out and if changes are needed. For instance, in some cases the birth plan may need to be adjusted to account for any underlying health conditions.
The following steps can help ensure a successful birth plan:
Begin with a journal — Start writing down as many thoughts and plans for the upcoming birth in a journal. The journal will help establish priorities and provide a list of ideas to help you create a birth plan, says the American Pregnancy Association (APA).
Be positive — Think of what you want rather than what you don’t want. Create a plan that focuses on the positive by creating statements such as “we desire to have” rather than “we don’t want,” the APA says. State your intentions while preparing yourself for other scenarios.
Involve others – Seek advice from other moms and listen to their birthing stories. Involve your partner in the decision making so they feel part of the process and know what is happening the day of the birth. Tour the hospital you have chosen to visualize your plan in motion.
Flexibility is key — No one birth experience is the same. Women need to expect the unexpected and realize that at any point during the labor she may have to deviate from the plan that she has created for the health of her baby.
Neil Salas, MD, is an OB/Gyn physician with Premier Health Specialists who practices at Upper Valley Women’s Center in Troy.