You may have heard the horror stories in parents’ groups:
“I wanted an unmedicated birth and the nurses would not stop encouraging me to take pain medication or get an epidural.”
“I wanted delayed cord clamping and my doctor completely disregarded my requests.”
“I wanted an epidural and I felt shamed by my care team.”
“I wanted to continue laboring and was pressured to have a c section because of failure to progress.”
The unfortunate thing is that many parents have a birth experience they consider less than ideal.
The fortunate thing is that many parents have fantastic birth experiences where they felt loved, supported and in control. Choosing a team of care providers who support your birth preferences can have a big impact on how you feel about the outcome of your childbirth experience.
Whether you plan to have an unmedicated birth at home under the care of a midwife, or you are planning a scheduled cesarean with your obstetrician, choosing a health care provider who is supportive of your plan is incredibly important.
One of the most predictable things about birth is that it is completely unpredictable. No one can anticipate what is going to happen or how you’re going to feel when things happen. Your birth may deviate from your ideal plan for a medically necessary reason, or simply because you change your mind. What is important is that you feel informed and supported should things change. Being confident that you and your care provider are on a similar page ideologically can help you better cope with any necessary interventions or changes to your plan.
How do you identify if you and your care provider are on the same page? Providing your care provider a copy of your birth plan during your prenatal care can be a useful gauge. However, I believe the most useful way you can find out if you and your provider are truly on the same page is to ask specific questions surrounding your birth plan.
For instance, if you would like delayed cord clamping and your provider says they support it, ask them what their exact definition of cord clamping is. Do they wait 30 seconds? Do they wait 2 minutes? Do they wait until the cord is no longer pulsing?
It is important to identify that your care providers definitions and yours line up. They may say they support you in your preferences in general terms, but if your definition of something is different you don’t want to wait until your birth to find out.
For example, if your definition of minimal cervical checks is one on admission and none until you ask again and their definition of minimal cervical checks is every 4 hours… it is easy to understand how you may find yourself disappointed with the way things actually play out.
As with all things, education is paramount. Once you understand your options and visualize what your ideal birth experience looks like, it is important to surround yourself with a team that supports your wishes. It is never too late to change your plans if you feel the need.
You are in charge of your own experience.