When you’re expecting a baby, it can sometimes seem like it’s all or none. You either have a super-crunchy, all natural birth with no drugs, no laying down, no interventions, and groups of fawns frolicking through the delivery room, or you have a totally sterile, drugged birth that everyone tells you is “the better way” at the hospital as they insert long needles into you.
I’m taking a stand for the semi-crunchy birth.
When Little Man was born, I had been having inconsistent contractions for a couple of days. We lived 45 minutes away from the hospital, and when they started to even out on a Sunday night right before we were going to take my brother-in-law back to the barracks, I figured, “Why not? I’ll just pop in, see how dilated I am, and leave.” I didn’t even put my hospital bag in the car.
Turns out I was 6cm dilated, and I was immediatly admitted. My contractions stopped. They broke my water, hoping that would restart them.
Out came the Pitocin. I didn’t know any better, so I was like, “Sure! You’re the healthcare professionals, you know what’s best!”.
Ladies, let me tell you- Pitocin is the seventh circle of hell wrapped in barbed wire delivered on the back of a poisonous spider with rabies. You thought contractions were bad before it? HA! That’s cute. I had TWO contractions and was begging for an epidural. Then I started begging for something before the epidural even got to me. And I have a pretty high pain tolerance.
So this time around, I am ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE I do not want Pitocin. It wasn’t even a glimmer on my birth plan last time, and okay, my birth plan MAY have gotten left at home on the counter when I went to the hospital. Don’t judge. With Baby #2, I’m ahead of the game- at 31 weeks pregnant, I’ve got my birth plan!
So here are the major components of a semi-crunchy birth plan:
- Expectant Mother and Father’s names. The hospital may be super busy when you’re admitted, and like high school, you have to have your name on the top of the assignment. Having the father’s name up there too decreases the chances of your hubby/significant other getting lost or sent home with someone else. Joking, but seriously, during childbirth it’s like the men don’t even exist.
- Baby’s Name. This is assuming, of course, that you have it picked out. If you don’t, don’t panic, yo! We still don’t have a middle name picked out for a girl. If you found out the gender ahead of time, it might be a good idea to put down the name you have picked out just in case Janie turns out to be Johnny, or vice versa. If you have a different last name from the father, PLEASE make sure you put down what last name you want your baby to have.
- First or Second (or third or tenth) Baby? This is nice for the Labor and Delivery staff to know, since second time moms generally require a little less help and reassurance, and since birth tends to go faster with the second baby.
- Pain Medications? This isn’t an all-or-nothing game. I have an epidural written down because I want to be able to sleep through labor like I did last time. This was SO nice because then I wasn’t all groggy and annoyed from being kept up all night long. I didn’t notice any difference in my level of alertness with the epidural, and Little Man was up and raring right out of the birth canal, so it didn’t affect him. Seriously, newborns are supposed to crash. He was awake for eight hours his first day of life, just staring around at everything and doing his very best impressions of Daddy. I also got something called Fentinol before the epidural, to dull the pain to the point that I wasn’t breaking Hubby’s hand. It was weird. It felt like what I imagine being on psycotic drugs feels like. I don’t recommend it unless you’re in unbearable pain.
- Will Daddy Faint? If this is your second time around, it might be nice to include a sentence on how your birth partner will react. Hubby, for example, turned a variety of whites and greens and swayed a lot, but he didn’t barf and didn’t pass out. If he had, I would put that in the plan.
- Absolute No-Nos. For me, things that get filed under this are Pitocin, a C-section, an episiotomy, and forceps. Our Naval Hospital has a pretty high Pitocin usage rate, and a very high C-section rate, largely as a matter of convenience for the doctors. I made sure to write in very large letters that those two procedures were a VERY LAST resort. I also
briefedlectured Hubby on this, since I’m relying on him to be my enforcer.
- Considerations During Labor. Do you want music? How low do you want the lights? Will you have family in the room or do you want everyone gone except you and your birth partner? If you have other people in the room, are they likely to pass out/throw up? If there’s an emergency and it’s you or the baby, who do you want them to save? Do you want a mirror to watch Baby crowning? Do you want to push with your body’s cues or do you want someone to tell you when (and yes, you can feel when to push with an epidural. I wound up yelling at the doctor because he wanted me to stop pushing and I HAD TO PUSH. Little Man was almost born into an ungloved hand). All that goes in here.
- Immediately After Birth. Crunchy things you might want in this section include skin to skin contact, delayed cord clamping, breastfeeding, whether you want Baby whisked away to be cleaned or not, what you are doing with the placenta (encapsulation? Taking it home to plant it under a tree?) etc. I put cord clamping at the very top, because that’s what they’re most likely to do first and I DON’T want them to clamp it until it stops pulsing. I also included a sentence or two about how Baby’s gender is a surprise, so can they please announce “It’s a BOY!” or “It’s a GIRL!”. They don’t do this anymore. They just assume you know. Also, set a time on how long you want them to wait before taking Baby off of you. I want at least 30 minutes of skin-to-skin time, and after that I want Hubby to go with Baby for the exam, if only to make sure they don’t do anything to them we don’t want.
- Siblings. If you have older children, do you want them present right away, or do you want them to wait until you’re up in recovery?
- Feeding/Diapering/Care. This is where I put down cloth diapering, breastfeeding, and refusal of circumcision. If it’s non-standard, write it down.
- My Postpartum Care Plans. If you’re planning on using cloth pads instead of disposables, put that down here. The hospital might require you to use disposables in the first few days just to make sure you’re not passing huge clots, but if they don’t more power to ya! I also included that I don’t want any immunizations after (last time I got the whopping cough vaccine and it made me sick as a dog), and my chosen form of post-partum birth control.
So there you have it! It’s certainly possible to have a semi-crunchy birth at a hospital. Just remember that your birth plan is flexible, and you can speak up whenever you feel uncomfortable with the way something is going. It’s your birth, your baby, and your body.