Pregnancy and the whole concept of having a baby is a time of many overwhelming changes. Making a birth plan for labor and delivery is probably one of the tasks on your long list, along with packing your hospital bag and pre-washing the baby’s first clothes. The best thing about having a birth plan is that it gives you a chance to consider some options and make educated choices, all while you are still comfortable, pregnant, and not managing contractions. The worst thing about a birth plan is its name. For many of us in our daily lives, a plan is made and then carried out accordingly, but birth is nothing if not unpredictable.
OB-GYN, Suzanne Wong, agrees, saying: “I don’t mind birth plans as long as the patient understands that birth plans can change depending on how the labor goes and that decisions are suggested based on what we feel is best for the mom and baby’s health.” Dr. Wong’s point is that as labor and birth progress, deviations from the plan may be necessary to ensure safety. Parents need to be flexible about the plan and open to last minute changes, understanding that their trusted maternity care provider will do their best to ensure a positive outcome. Fortunately, making a birth plan allows you to inform yourself and have a say in some of the factors that play a large part in getting you as close as possible to the birth experience you want.
The primary question about labor (if you are giving birth at a hospital) is pain management. Epidurals are the most widely used method to relieve pain. An epidural is an anesthetic drip administered through a spinal catheter placed in the lower back, numbing the lower half of the body. While it often helps to make the pain of contractions manageable or even no more than pressure or tightening, some women experience a slowing down of the labor process, immunity to the pain relief, or even difficulty feeling enough to push the baby out.
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