Every birth story is different, which means there is no such thing as a “perfect birth.” That being said, the more prepared we are for any great journey or transition in life - including accepting the wisdom of a Plan B or C, the more satisfied we’ll be when we reach the final destination.
Of course, when a gorgeous newborn baby awaits you, it’s hard to imagine being disappointed with the journey. But studies show that women who report having positive birth experiences share three main feelings or memories about their labor and delivery:
A consistent level of personalized support
Trust in their bodies’ abilities, allowing them to face the pain
Some level of connection between the mind and body experience (breathing, mindfulness, one moment at a time, position changes, mantras, etc.
Researchers of one study concluded that, “In order to feel confident in their first childbirth, the women wanted to be confirmed and seen as unique individuals by the professionals and their partner. If professionals responded to the individual woman's needs of support, the woman more often had a positive birth experience, even if the birth was protracted or with medical complications.”
So how do you plan to receive those important tenets during your own, upcoming birth?
Writing a Birth Plan is a First-Step Towards Achieving the Birth Story You Want
There are multiple benefits to writing your own birth plan. First, it will lead you along an online and personal interview quest that provides plenty of fodder for you and your birth partner to contemplate in the months leading up to your birth.
I recommend completing the list of questions and considerations provided by the American Pregnancy Association's, Creating Your Birth Plan page. Remember that clear and simple is best; unless you’re planning to birth at home or in a woman-focused birthing center, odds are the labor and delivery team only has time to briefly scan your printed plan (one page is best, two posted side by side is okay - larger, scannable print is ideal).
Second, it will help you and your partner get on the same page - you may be surprised at how differently you picture the birthing room, who’s allowed to be there, the type of support you’ll need, etc.
Take a Birth Education Class
Birth education classes are so fantastic for first-time parents, but even repeat parents typically rave about how much they learned or re-learned from the first time around. The Bay Area is rich with high-quality, certified birth educators from every philosophy and background.
If your birth educator doesn’t have you create a birth plan as part of the “homework,” she’ll undoubtedly cover all of the subjects you’ll ponder as you write one for yourself.
Consider the Less-Than-Ideal Outcomes
Many women create absolutes leading up to their births such as, “I will not have an epidural - I’m doing it all naturally,” OR, “I’m not inducing my labor so I don’t need to create a plan for a C-Section.” In fact, this can backfire on you because if you do end up in a situation where pain medication is a necessity, or a C-Section is the only route to ensure the wellbeing of you and your baby, you’ll be scrambling to make important decisions on the fly - at a time when that isn’t easy to do.
Creating brief instruction for the unplanned and less-than-ideal outcomes, you (or your partner, doula, etc.) can instruct the medical team accordingly. In other words, it’s best to have a Plan B.
This is where you can emphasize your preferences for:
● Delayed cord cutting (if possible)
● Skin-to-skin contact during wellness checks (if possible)
● Ensuring your partner remains with the baby at all times after s/he is delivered - remaining in contact if possible - should you be unconscious or unable to accompany the baby after the birth.
● Your desire to nurse the baby as soon as possible
Speak with your healthcare team and/or your birthing educator about the things to prioritize in writing on your “Plan B” Birth Plan.
Consider using a doula and/or midwife
Have you considered using a doula or midwife as part of your birthing team? Women who use doulas and/or midwives have higher rates of “positive birth experiences” than those who don’t. Read, To Hire a Doula or Not: Which is Right For You?” for more information on that topic.
It’s not all that surprising, really, when you consider the three most important aspects connected to a woman feeling her birth experience was successful. Doulas and midwives are not only “birthing experts,” they also serve as your birthing advocate, facilitate pain management, and provide consistent, personalized support from the beginning through the end of your labor, and then into the postpartum period.
Get Your Birth Story on Film from Start to Finish
Finally, I think the perfect birth includes the perfect photographer to capture your journey from those precious moments before your baby was born, to the tender, ethereal moments of his/her teeniest, tiniest self. Telling your bump-to-baby story, using professional and artistically rendered images, is an invaluable way to hold on to the magic forever.
Contact me, Marcela Limon, at Lemonshoots, or give me a call at 510-747-9019, to discuss all the ways we can capture you and your baby with unforgettably stunning photos.