If you are pregnant, then you probably want to be heard about your wishes for birth, even in the heat of labor. Writing a birth plan -- which is a document that spells out your intentions and wishes for birth -- can be a good option to help empower you with choice, even when the birthing gets tough. However, having your doctor's support is essential.
So, should you speak to your doctor before writing a birth plan? Absolutely. Communicating with your doctor is an important part of developing the best birth plan for your empowered birth. How can you write a birth plan that your doctor will support?
Experts say that taking a positive tone will pay off. "To help keep an open and honest dialog with the care giver, keep it positive," says Cheri Johnson, Director of Obstetrical Services, Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. "Word requests so that the care provider understands very clearly what you want to happen and your overall objectives. An example would be 'I would like to move and change positions as frequently as possible' or 'I would like to have intermittent monitoring.' Avoid negative wording such as 'I do not want to be tied down to the bed on a monitor.' It is very important to keep everything positive and flexible so mom and care provider can work in tandem in pursuit of a positive experience."
A great birthing experience isn't made by a piece of paper alone. Parents need to take a proactive approach in communicating their wants and needs during birth -- and come from an educated perspective.
Birthing classes are a great way to get informed about everything you need to know about your birthing options, from pain management to positions best suited for delivering a baby. Doula Leanne Palmerston of www.hamiltondoula.com says that educating beyond the hospital and doctor environment is more important than writing a perfect birth plan. "First, parents should be receiving childbirth education from sources independent of hospitals and obstetric clinics. There they should make sure all of their questions about options in birth are answered so that they have the information they need to make informed decisions in the hospital room. Hiring a doula should be every parents next step. A doula will be present before labor to make sure the parents have enough information to have a safe and satisfying birth, but will also be with the parents during labor to increase their chances of having their ideal birth as well as provide information as the need arises in labor," says Palmerston.
Palmerston also says that parents-to-be should be read to verbally communicate what they want while birthing. "Ultimately, what the mother says to staff will be considered the last word regardless of whether she has a birth plan. I recommend parents research their options and feel empowered to participate in their own health care," says Palmerston.
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