Times have changed since your mom had you. Back then how women gave birth only differed from generation to generation, culture to culture… now it is individual to individual. The good news is you have more options then ever before.

To think about, plan for and get the birth you want:

Choose your setting and your support.  Where do you want to deliver your baby? In a hospital room or birthing center? Who is delivering your baby? Is it a conventional practitioner like your OBGYN? Is it a midwife? Who’s supporting you during your labor? Your partner, a doula, a birth coach? Do some research and talk to your healthcare provider about your options.

Explore center stage.  Make plans with your partner to go out for a great lunch and then stop by where you’ve chosen to deliver your baby. Make sure you find out where to park, the right doors to enter and where to sign in. Take a tour of the labor and delivery areas if you’re hungry for more info.

Make a birth plan. Birth plans are great to start early on in your pregnancy to get you thinking if you have no idea what you should be considering. They include details like who you want to be in the delivery room, what kind of pain management you want and your wish to practice skin to skin and breastfeed immediately after your baby is born. Your birth plan should ultimately be a statement of all your preferences reviewed with your healthcare provider in the third trimester and on hand in your file where you deliver.

Discuss your birth plan with your partner.  Talk about everything. Assume nothing. Much like preparing for a marriage rather than just planning a wedding, time needs to be spent outside of the logistics and inside the difficult conversation. Be sure you are both on the same page with your choices and your what if’s before you head to the hospital. Decisions may need to be made when your partner is out of the room or you are out of energy, so be sure it is one voice that is being heard.

Solicit hindsight.  Talk to your female relatives and friends who have had their baby. Ask them how close their actual experience was to their birth plan and how they feel about it now. Their hindsight will provide a real eye opener to how things can go and may change your mind about what you thought really matters to you. These conversations will help you decide what parts of your plan you may want to be flexible about and those you do not want to compromise on.

Be your own advocate.  You are not special. That is the first thing you need to remember to have the birth experience you want. Your baby’s birth may be most important moment of your life, but to the staff at the hospital your problems are only as urgent as the woman in the next bed, in the next room and down the hall. If you want things to go according to plan, be ready to speak up. As you progress through the birth remind them if what is happening is not in line with what you asked for. Talk to your birth partner to make sure that when you are too exhausted or distracted, they will advocate for you.

Be nice to the nurses.  It takes a village so get to know the villagers. Ask and remember the names of your nurses. Talk to them about things other than what you need and when you need it. Prioritize the urgency of what you want and be willing to compromise based on their medical expertise. If you don’t want your birth plan used as a nappie, learn to get along.

And remember, plans change.  As long as your wishes are heard and your needs are met, remember that no one knows exactly how this is all going to go. There is nothing more important then the health and safety of you and your child. In the end, your baby may have a plan all their own… they usually do.

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