A lot of experts recommend having a written birth plan. They recommend choosing the type of music, the type of medical interventions, the position in which you’d like to give birth, how often you’d like your baby’s heart rate monitored, and lots of other things.
To be honest, I’m not sure it’s worthwhile.
You should choose a hospital that has a philosophy matching yours, if possible, but you should be aware that if labor comes on hard and fast, you’ll need to go to the nearest hospital, unless you’ve chosen a home birth.
Every hospital and birthing center has policies regarding interventions. It doesn’t matter how much you object to an epidural, you’ll have to have one if a C-section is necessary. In fact, I know one woman who had a fully natural childbirth, but was unable to expel the placenta, so she had to have an epidural to have the placenta extracted.
If you have a home birth, you might end up being rushed to a hospital if something goes wrong with you or the baby. Be sure that an ambulance will be able to get to you in a suitable amount of time, and that you’re working with a midwife who won’t hesitate to transfer you to a hospital in an emergency.
Likewise, if you get to the hospital on a busy day or if you get to the hospital too late, you won’t get an epidural, no matter how much you want one.
Clearly, it’s best to know what your threshold for an epidural is. For some women, the threshold is as soon as the pain becomes serious. For others, the threshold is only when lives will be at risk without surgery. You and whoever will be coaching you through labor, as well as anyone who might have to make decisions for you in an emergency, should be on the same page about this. If, however, you’ve planned a natural childbirth and decide to have an epidural, your partner or childbirth coach should understand that you’re the only one who knows how much pain you can bear.
You may want to give birth while squatting and then discover that you can’t stand up while you’re laboring. Or you may start out lying down and find that you’re in less pain when standing. It’s best to have a hospital and labor coach who will work with you right when you’re laboring.
Some hospitals don’t allow you to eat when you’re in labor. If you have time and you’re hungry, eat something before you go to the hospital. The food you have at home will be better than hospital food anyway. Many women find that they are neither hungry nor thirsty in the final stages of labor. Personally, I had a double burger with fries and a coke about ten hours into my labor with my first. My labor coach promised me I would see it later. I didn’t.
This is where it’s really important to have your needs specified and written down. If you need vegan food, a sign language translator, or some kind of accommodation for a handicap, it’s crucial that the staff of the hospital or birthing center be aware of it. Obviously, it’s also crucial that the staff be aware of any medical condition, such as diabetes or epilepsy, which might impact the birth.
The Bottom Line
A lot of women talk about having the perfect birth experience. It’s really important to understand that birth is a complex process. There are many unknowns. Even if you want minimal intervention and you end up with a Caesarian section, try not to get hung up on the lost birth experience. Remember your goal: a healthy mother and a healthy baby. Everything else should be secondary.