A birth plan is a written document outlining your labor, delivery, and postpartum care preferences. Your birth plan can also include any medications or things you would prefer to avoid during your birth. Having a birth plan is not necessary, and many women prefer to go into the experience with an open mind, leaving it up to the doctors to decide what happens. Having a birth plan, however, does help to prepare you for your labor mentally and allows you to consider all of your preferences and possibilities.
If you create a birth plan, include essential information such as where you want to give birth, who you want in the room, what types of pain relief you prefer, and any special facilities or practices like hypnobirthing. Discuss your plan with your midwife to ensure your preferences are met, and see our guide on how to write a birth plan for more tips.
Along with your birthing plan, consider whether an epidural is the right choice for you. Before deciding on the medical aspects of your birth, it's crucial to understand your options.
An epidural is a type of pain relief involving an injection of medication into the lower part of your spine. Injecting this medication numbs the nerves that carry pain signals from your uterus and birth canal to your brain, which helps ease discomfort during the process. Some mothers are concerned that epidurals can slow labor since the medication can relax your pelvic muscles. This makes it more difficult for your baby to move down the birth canal. An epidural may not be the best option for someone whose delivery progresses slowly.
As you approach the end of your pregnancy, familiarize yourself with labor symptoms. Pay attention to the common signs of labor to know when it's time to go to the hospital, call your midwife, or wait at home. Some common signs of labor include back pain, the sudden urge to use the bathroom, increased discharge, and, of course, your water breaking. Women can experience different signs of labor for each pregnancy.
Some women experience all the symptoms, and some experience none, so pay attention to any contractions. Time your contractions to know whether or not you are in active labor. Check out our article on what contractions feel like to help prepare you for labor.
Whether having a C-section is part of your birth plan or occurs as an unplanned emergency, for medical reasons, we’ve got your back. Twenty-five percent of births occur via C-section, so here are some tips to help prepare you: