A lot of you have been asking me to share my birth plan, so I wanted to finally share it with you today. Because we decided not to have a set “birth plan” (more on that at the very bottom of this post), I’m sharing how we’re preparing physically, mentally, and emotionally for labor. Obviously, I know that I have no idea what I’m in for since I’ve never done this before, but I’m thinking of it like training for a marathon (but like the hardest marathon ever): I’m going to train as much as possible in any way that I can, and when the day comes, I’ll have some tools in my back pocket that will make the experience easier and more manageable.
For my entire life, I’ve been terrified of giving birth. Based on how it’s depicted in movies and horror stories that I’ve heard over the years, how could I not be?! With all the work that I’ve done over the last few months, I’m finally in a place where I feel confident yet trepidatious. I’m not going to pretend that there’s no fear left because there is, but it is far less.
My goal is to make the process as calm as possible by preparing in the following ways, including everything from breathing techniques to eating dates… yes, dates!
The biggest commitment financially and time-wise has been our hypnobirthing course. I’ve been working with Laura, the woman who teaches it, for about eight years, and always knew that we would use her for Blissborn, her course for labor. She’s helped me with anxiety and insomnia and introduced me to the world of hypnosis. While it sounds scary, in reality it’s just guided meditations that help you relax.
Hypnobirthing is no different! She’s taught me to put myself into hypnosis (deep meditation) and recite mantras to stay calm and focus on other things besides the pain. I practice these techniques daily (literally) and have used them in real life scenarios like when I threw my back out and when I get calf spasms at night. In both situations, it’s been invaluable, so I’m hoping it has a similar effect in labor.
What I love about the course is that it involves your partner as well. She creates a big role for him in my labor, and he’ll be saying mantras to me as well as keeping me calm with physical and verbal techniques. Getting Anel to agree to almost 15 hours of calls with Laura was tough, but we’re both so glad that we did. It’s given me a confidence going into labor that I never thought I would feel.
Online Lamaze Class
My friend told me about this online lamaze class which she used for the birth of her third baby. She said it was, hands down, the most helpful thing she had done for any of her births, so I immediately jumped at the offer to check it out. The class itself is only $30 which is great too. I went through the labor pain management section yesterday and it was very similar to what I learned in hypnobirthing, so it seems like a great, more affordable alternative! It also teaches breathing techniques that I hadn’t learned elsewhere
Hiring a Birth Doula
I’ve talked about our doula before, but I get a lot of questions about exactly what she’ll do. Her role is to be a support system and cheerleader during my entire labor both at home and when we get to the hospital. We hired her back in January and have had regular calls and Skype sessions with her since. We’ve only met in person twice but because we’re in constant contact, I feel like she’s very involved in our pregnancy already. She has been present for 500 births (wow!) and really knows her stuff when it comes to positions, relaxation techniques, and keeping both of us as calm as possible throughout the process. She can understand the physiology of birth and emotional needs of a woman in labor better than Anel or I ever could.
For anyone local, this is the group that we used. You have a call with the owner and she puts you in touch with a doula that she thinks you’ll best mesh with. Then you take it from there!
Having a doula is an investment (although not as much as I thought it would be), but has put my mind at ease more than anything else. I’m so glad that we decided to go this route.
We decided to take parenting classes with The Parent Collective instead of the hospital classes because the price was the same and because it was a totally judgment free zone. They teach breast and bottle feeding and in the labor class, give tips for natural births, epidurals, and C-sections. I loved the fact that they go over everything and then let the parents decide what’s best for them as opposed to pushing any agenda one way or another.
The classes are all taught by a labor and delivery nurse who is also a certified lactation consultant who has been working in hospitals in New York and Greenwich, CT for 15 years. She really knows her stuff!
So what about this prepped us for our birth? The first class was all about labor and what to expect. She went over the stages of labor, showed us pictures and charts, and made us really understand what to expect each step of the way. Class two was pain management and relaxation techniques including positions and partner massage.
A few weeks ago, we went to tour the labor and delivery unit of our hospital. Leaving there, I felt so much more at ease, knowing that once we arrive we will now know exactly where to go and what to do. While we were there, we pre-registered as well so that we won’t have to fill out any paper work when I’m in labor. The hospital has valet parking for laboring moms so that we can literally pull up and walk (or get wheeled) straight to the unit. Such a great perk!
We also seriously lucked out because our new neighbor is the head night nurse in the maternity unit (where you go after giving birth). She told us to text her when we go into labor so she can reserve a big room for us if possible. It will be nice to have a familiar face there.
The obvious things are done like packing our hospital bag, setting up the car seat, and putting together the bassinet, but I’m hyper organized always and pregnancy has made me even more so. I have playlists downloaded for labor, a list of people to text and email, food and drinks prepped, a plan (and two back up plans) for Boots’ care while we’re in the hospital, and a list of things for us to remember once I go into labor in case we forget. The list includes things like
I won’t get into details but a friend of a friend who is an OB/GYN suggested this. You can read more here. Warning: It hurts like crazy, but has been a good way to help me practice my hypnobirthing skills. With my doctor’s blessing, we’ve been doing it regularly for the last two weeks, using coconut oil.
One of the things that my doctor, doula, and all of my friends have told me time and time again is to keep my endurance up during pregnancy as much as possible so that when push comes to shove (literally) and I’m in labor, I have more stamina. My goal is to move my body every day, whether that means a walk with the dog, a hike in the woods, an online yoga class, or a workout with Madison. Although these days all of the above makes me out of breath, I feel like I’m in better shape than if I weren’t doing it.
Ok this is a random one but a reader sent me this article about eating dates and how it can help with an easier labor. It might just be an old wives tale, but I figured it couldn’t hurt, so have started adding two to my smoothie in the morning and then eat 2-3 more throughout the day. The article actually links to two medical studies supporting the claim so I kind of buy it. As my doctor said, it definitely can’t hurt. Plus they curb my insane sugar cravings so I’m eating less processed sugar. Win/win!
Raspberry Leaf Tea
The jury is definitely still out on raspberry leaf tea with a few inconclusive studies, but my doula suggested drinking at least a cup per day in my last trimester to help make labor faster and reduce complications based on anecdotal evidence. Again, when I asked my doctor, she said it couldn’t hurt so I figured why not! I always used to drink it during my period and it helped me a lot with cramping and PMS symptoms so I know how powerful it can be.
So after all that, you can see that we’ve put a lot of work and and practice into this, and we hope for a natural birth. That being said, I’m 100% open to an epidural (natural mamas, please don’t hate!) because I just have no idea what to expect. Our plan is to go into it with an open mind and do our best. I’m going to use the techniques I’ve learned in hypnobirthing, our birth class, and Lamaze, and just knowing that I have these tools in my pocket make me feel better. And hey, if it ends in an emergency C-section, that’s ok too! She’s coming out one way or another, and we just plan to go with the flow.