Posts Tagged "birth plans"

First Baby First Homebirth

Posted on Dec 12, 2009 in Childbirth Options, Featured | 3 comments

First Baby First Homebirth

I was born at home so I’ve known all my life that there was a possibility that it wasn’t all about the hospital, that there were options. Even so, when I was pregnant with my first my attitude was “we’ll see.” I thought we’d explore it, talk it over with the midwives but that it was more likely we’d have a homebirth with our second baby. I was unsure and I thought back to my mom saying that one of the reasons she had me at home was because she’d already given birth twice before. She talked about it like it was no big deal, but there was always the underlying explanation that she had experience. And me? In my first pregnancy? Of course, no experience. I recently read this post by @heartsandhandss from twitter where she talks about whether or not homebirth is for you. What struck me so much about her post was the idea that as a first time mom, even those who are drawn to homebirth often feel this ambivalence about homebirth. You say that with your second baby you might consider a birthing center or a homebirth because it won’t be as scary as with your first baby. Her argument is that you might as well have a homebirth while you still qualify for one, while you are still low risk. With cesarean rates hovering round 30% (depending on where you are), you have a 1 in 3 chance of coming home from the hospital with the prospect of trying for a VBAC next time. Again, depending on where you are, you might not be eligible for a homebirth anymore after that. This point of view really stuck with me. To me the tricky part is being able to balance that kind of rationale with the fact that first time moms often haven’t got the experience to TRUST birth yet. Interestingly, for so many the experience they gain in the hospital does the exact opposite: it doesn’t teach them to trust birth at all. Or you find that experienced mothers turn to homebirth only because they’ve had such a terrible hospital experience that they go looking for anything, any alternative must be better than doing THAT again. A few things helped change my mind about having a homebirth for my first baby. The first was that in my family it was treated like a normal and acceptable choice. I had support for my decision and it was something I’d known about my whole life. The second factor was the trust I had in my midwives and when I told them that I thought maybe a homebirth the second time around, they were able to put whatever nebulous fears I had to rest. In fact, I can’t even remember what their answer was. I just knew after that talk that we’d be planning a homebirth. And lastly, I read books books books until I trusted birth at least logically if not from experience. For me, it ended up being the natural path to take, perhaps because that’s where my path started in the first place. For others, I really think that @heartsandhandss makes a compelling and logical argument. If you want the best chance of staying low risk, staying eligible for homebirth in the future, at least explore it as an option the first time. Or make the choice to birth with a midwife in a hospital or birth centre. Otherwise, the choice may never be yours. photo credit:...

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Birth Plan Basics

Posted on Aug 23, 2009 in Birthing, Childbirth Options, Featured | 3 comments

Birth Plan Basics

Once unheard of, it is now routine to hear “this is a copy of my birth plan” as a woman is admitted to L&D. There is a lot of info (and opinions) out there about birth plans. This post is intended as a primer to get you pointed in the right direction. Often explained as a document outlining how you wish your childbirth experience to go, the birth plan is much more: The birth plan is way to prepare for your birth: properly prepared, it will require discussion with your care providers and likely personal research and reading. It will allow you to seriously consider how you feel about medications, interventions, procedures, and yes, emergency situations should they arise. It will give you an opportunity to talk with your partner about his/her hopes and fears and to communicate about what is important to you both. The birth plan is a communication tool: hopefully it will clearly and succinctly spell out your wishes and expectations not just for your childbirth experience, but for the safety of your baby and yourself. It can function as a reminder to your care provider of things you may have talked about weeks before. The birth plan can have the power to speak for you despite staff shift changes, whether or not you have an advocate there for you (partner, family, friend or doula) and whether or not you are in a condition to speak for yourself. The birth plan is not a frivolous wish list: it is a simple one page statement outlining what you are ok with and what you are not ok with. Birth plan detractors seem to feel that a birth plan reflects a selfish mom’s over-attachment to her own experience. However, we all have the right to informed consent when it comes to medical procedures and your birth plan should focus on this aspect rather than getting caught up in small details like whether or not you want to have your ipod in the room. The birth plan unfortunately is not a legal document: there will be hospitals and staff members and births where the birth plan does not get followed. Make sure to go over it with your care provider ahead of time. Is your care provider comfortable with the plan? Find out if the points you’ve made are even possible at the place where you are delivering – does hospital protocol even allow everything you’ve outlined? Bring multiple copies with you to give out. Be prepared for shift changes. Remember that circumstances might arise that you didn’t consider ahead of time and some parts of the plan might not get adhered to. The birth plan is not a road map: no one can really plan out their birth. Birth is almost always surprising in some way. It is hard not to get caught up in your vision of the ideal birth but birth is unpredictable. Remember to account for things you hope will not happen. The birth plan should not become a way to cling to control. Carefully consider the points on your birth plan and thoughtfully write it out. And then, hand it to your partner and let go of the plan so you can embrace the unknowable aspect of birth. Resources Here are a couple of good online birth plans to check out. You can fill them out online to print and take with you, or just use them as a sample or starting point to write your own. Pregnancy Channel Childbirth.org Earth Mama Angel Baby And finally, a couple of great books to get you started on your research: Creating Your Birth Plan – The Definitive Guide to a Safe & Empowering Birth Marsden Wagner, M.D., M.S. Creating Your Birth Plan helps expectant mothers make informed decisions about the assistance they’ll require for childbirth. Designed to encourage collaboration between pregnant women and their caregivers, it includes information on: What to expect when delivering in a hospital, in a birthing center, or at home How to select an advocate to ensure expectant mothers’ wishes are honored...

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Should You Write A Birth Plan?

Posted on Jan 29, 2009 in Childbirth Options, Featured, Maternity Care Options | 0 comments

Should You Write A Birth Plan?

I was doing some research for a page on Birth Plans (for the business which I founded and have now sold: www.sweethomebirth.com) and was surprised this past week when I went to get a haircut (gasp!) and read Modern times: Don’t be so pushy – Making a “birth plan” is about more than being prepared. It’s about being in control. Here’s why letting go of all that is way harder – and that much better by Katrina Onstad in Chatelaine at the salon. I couldn’t decide how I felt about the piece. On the one hand, here was a mainstream national magazine that was talking about midwifery in a very off-hand way, as if it is becoming the norm and I do agree with the main message which is that “sometimes the best plan is no plan at all.” It’s important to not get too caught up in the whole plan part of the birth plan because, well, we really can’t plan our births. She is right to say that when it comes to birth we have to expect the unexpected and not get overly attached to our vision of the ideal birth. But then again, something rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, it was easy for her to say that the best plan is no plan at all when she had lucked out with an unmedicated natural birth which left her feeling like she “had birthed the universe”. A beautiful way to put it, but not necessarily how other mothers feel when they end up with a horrifying intervention-filled birth. The author suggests that the reason these mothers feel disappointed is because they have too many expectations going into it. Plan or no plan, aren’t these mothers entitled to mourn unnecessary medical interventions? Perhaps Ms. Onstad would be writing a completely different article had she endured a 36 hour labour that ended in a cesarean birth while under general anesthetic. You can bet she’d be researching and making birth plans for her second birth. There is something hypocritical about this romanticization of her own birth when the article’s theme clearly seems to be that “the romanticization of the birth moment is not good for women” (as quoted by cesarean mom Judith). This statement erroneously puts the blame for all these disappointed women on the women themselves, for having plans and expectations. Despite mentioning the rising rates and risks of cesarean birth, Onstad neglects to suppose that labor mis-managment and the cascade of interventions could be the culprits for all the disappointment. Finally, Onstad makes a huge mistake by thinking that creating a birth plan to speak for you regarding your consent to medical procedures equates to an inability to submit to the forces of labour. She says: I was completely and totally out of control, but that moment of submission – totally without any expectation of anything – held the greatest power I’ve ever experienced. Is it not possible to still have that moment of submission while ensuring that your medical rights aren’t violated? What if Onstad’s birth had left her feeling that all her power had been stripped from her, that her body had been violated, or that she couldn’t protect her baby from painful or scary procedures? The difference in these two situations is that in one case the mother submits to the forces of labour, her birth and nature and in the other the mother must submit to the power of the medical system, which unfortunately isn’t omniscient. Having a birth plan is a way of exercising your right to informed consent in your most vulnerable moments, not a way to avoid submitting to the unknowable. I was divided over whether or not to post the article but I couldn’t stop thinking about it, particularly because I loved the dialogue between the article and a blog post I found from one of the commenters. Phd in Parenting wrote a lovely thoughtful (and a little irate) piece in response to the Chatelaine article. She makes an extremely valid point that when you trust your care...

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