I’m in a unique position—my prenatal care provider, one of a group of midwives who deliver at Vanderbilt, has actually requested a birth plan from me. I’m surprised by this. My impression has always been that hospitals hate birth plans, that they laugh at you behind their hands when you come in with a list of demands like that. I’ve even heard that birth plans carry a sort of extra c-section risk—something about karma, they say.
follow siteBut she said ‘bring us a birth plan to have on file’ so I wrote a birth plan. I’ve decided that Ideal Labor is the only option for me, so I wrote the birth plan to reflect that.
-When we arrive at the hospital, I’d like to be wearing my favorite Gap pajama top and pants, which are super soft and will photograph well when my sisters dodge in and out of the room and start Instagramming. I’d like to have my hair and makeup done (waterproof mascara), but hair up and out of the way like a real mom, and I’d like to have a sort of ‘hey, this is tough but also exciting’ glow about me.
-While I’m laboring, I’d like to have the full Panera menu available to me at any given time. I tend to get hungry when I’m doing something physically taxing, and those soups and salads are so perfectly light and refreshing (but also filling).
-I’d like to have the lights dim and music playing. The music should be a mix of Aretha Franklin ‘I’m a woman, hear me roar’ power songs and soothing, intelligent tracks, a la Sufjan Stevens. No Sam Smith, as I don’t want my child to learn to be whiny from an early age, and no pop, because I don’t want her to develop ADHD. Classical is also permissible (of course, although obviously I’ve been administering intrauterine classical music since the beginning of this pregnancy).
-My mother will be present in the room, and she and I will chat alternately about breastfeeding (she’ll get me caught up and ready to go when the little angel makes her appearance) and her latest home renovation project. My husband and I will chat comfortably about the classic novel that I’m in the middle of (I’ll have it with me in the room and get a few chapters read between contractions, at least until transition). He and I will also make little jokes about how ‘he got me into this mess’, but I’ll pat his arm reassuringly to let him know everything’s okay. My friends and other family members will pass conveniently in and out of the room as they arrive at the hospital, and I’ll greet them all with a smile.
-I would like as few pelvic exams as possible during labor. If possible, nurses should develop another way of measuring the progress of dilation; perhaps there’s an app for that?
-Intermittent monitoring is a must, and I will not tolerate needles in my arm. Since I will have no need for pain medication (the pain will be just enough to make me respect the power of the human body but not enough to cause me undue desperation), I will also require no needles anywhere in the vicinity of my back.
-I would like to wear a nice black bikini for when I’m laboring in the shower or the tub, because it kind of weirded me out when all of those ladies were laboring naked in The Business of Being Born. I will be happy to deliver the actual baby in a hospital gown, after all of the aforementioned costume changes have been made throughout labor.
-I plan to use the following methods of pain management: acupuncture, deep breathing, that workout where you hang from the ceiling in fabric slings and do gymnastics, eating Ben and Jerrys Cherry Garcia, calling my friend Karen and telling her that labor isn’t that bad, watching Seinfeld, getting somebody else to use one of those spider head massagers on me (works better than if you do it yourself), yoga, massage, reflexology, Jedi mind powers, talking about my feelings, and craughing (laughing and crying simultaneously).
-When the baby is born, I would like only my husband to be present, and maybe a midwife if she insists. This is a private moment between the two of us.
-I would like all hospital staff to be at the ready, just outside the door, in case something goes wrong or my husband forgets the scissors and can’t cut the cord.
-Birth position will be either crouching, on hands and knees, standing, or standing like the kid in Karate Kid when he’s on the rock and about to switch legs. I value spontaneity and would like to be able to choose between these positions and any others when the time comes.
-Please do not let anyone hand me a mirror when the baby is crowning, because that’s not what I want to see when I look in a mirror. Also, I don’t want to help catch the baby; I’ll already be doing a lot of the work and it doesn’t seem fair to give me the one job that the ‘catcher’ has.
-I would like to practice ‘skin on skin’ and hold baby immediately after the birth (but will the baby still have that stuff all over it?). Baby should latch immediately for a ‘practice suckle’ and then get into a schedule before we leave the hospital.
-After the birth, I’d like baby to room in with me and my husband, and to be taken away only for cleaning and ‘certified organic’ stamping. Any friends and family who have taken the trouble of coming by should be allowed in to say hello to the baby; I don’t plan to be too tired and I will still have all my makeup and hair in place.