Getting doctors involved in birth plans
What is the best way to talk to your doctor about your childbirth preferences, such as pain control? Birth plans are fantastic documents that moms can write to spell out what their ideal birth would be like. The experts tell us the best way to get your doctor involved.
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?
Keep it positiveReading internet message boards and list-servs about birth can give you a feeling of it being you against the medical community when it comes to birth. That isn't true. Your medical professionals - be it a nurse midwife or a doctor - need to work together to ensure that the birth goes as smoothly as possible. This means discussing, not demanding things, with your doctor or midwife.
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."
Remember prioritiesUltimately, the goal of birth is to produce a healthy baby. A birth plan can lead to an empowering birth experience that results in a happy mom and perfect baby, however understanding that sometimes things won't go perfectly is key. As Johnson mentioned, avoiding absolutes is an important technique in writing the birth plan since neither you nor the doctor can predict how a birth will go.Understanding that the baby's safety -- and yours -- is paramount is essential to a good birth plan and a good birth. Emergencies happen, and moms-to-be need to be prepared to abandon the plan to ensure safety. Letting your doctor know that you are ready to do that will make the plan resonate with them more."I highly recommend that parents ... place a statement at the end that says that they do realize that emergencies happen and in that case they realize that the plan may not be followed, that they all have read and agreed that the plan is reasonable. I also let my clients know that the most important outcome is a healthy baby- not a perfectly followed plan so adjustments are often needed," says doula Beverly A. Frommel, MHA.
Inform and be informed
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.
Read more on childbirth and birth plans:
- Basics of birth plan writing
- Interactive birth plan creator
- Real Moms Guide: Siblings at childbirth - Age appropriate tips
- Real Moms Guide: Dads and Doulas