(Disclaimer: I was given this book by my friend, Rachel, who wrote it, in the hope that I would review it. She didn’t ask me to say nice things. I am not now nor do I ever plan on being pregnant again, but I may hand this book off to the next first-time mom I see.)
When I was pregnant with the Bit, a lot of decisions were automatically made for me in terms of my care and how her birth would go down. Our insurance covers the clinic at the women’s hospital, and delivery at the women’s hospital, so that’s where we went.
We dutifully attended the month-long childbirth preparation class, even finishing a couple of weeks ahead of the recommended month before my due date.
Which was a good thing, since I ended up delivering six weeks early.
Even if I’d had a birth plan it would have been thrown out the window. Any vision I might have had of what my birth experience would be like was erased by the need to take special care of this little person. There would be no breastfeeding in the first hour of life; it was days later before it was allowed and her diet would always be supplemented with bottles of high-calorie formula and liquid vitamins.
I say this not to scare any readers who might currently be pregnant or thinking about children. And I don’t say it to convince you that you don’t need a birth plan.
Taking the time to plan for your birth as well as your baby is a great way to get excited about the experience, to take some of the fear out of any procedures (or pain!) you will experience and to provide you with an understanding that childbirth is in fact a natural thing that millions of women throughout time have done successfully — usually with a lot less access to hospitals, monitoring, prenatal care and drugs than we have.
Understanding Your Many Options
The point is there are a lot of different ways to go when it comes to having a baby, and every single choice is deeply personal. Whether you want to give birth in a hospital with an epidural and a team of NICU folks watching like I did or want to use a birthing pool at home like several of my friends, you should be able to have what you want and not have your desires questioned.
That’s why having a plan is so important, because you will understand the full array of options available and know what you want and why. It may not all work out exactly as you’d hoped, but at least you’ll have an ideal vision in mind.
So how do you go about learning what’s out there and writing your plan? That’s where Birth Plans for Dummies comes in. This excellent book was written by my friend Rachel Gurevich, who knows a ton about doulas and natural childbirth methods (and is the Guide to Infertility at About, where I also happen to work), and Sharon Perkins, a nurse who has worked in maternal-child health for more than two decades.
These ladies cover just about everything you could want to consider when it comes to preparing for and going through labor and delivery and the beginning of your child’s life. They discuss options you probably didn’t even know you had, such as eating and drinking during labor and limiting monitoring of the baby so you can move around more. They cover all sorts of birthing methods, from Lamaze to Birthing from Within, hypnobirthing to the Bradley Method.
There’s a discussion of what actually happens during and after labor and how to get through it without drugs and medical interventions if that’s what you’d like, but this book doesn’t come across as against hospital births with epidurals or other pain medications (it does, of course, come out against planned C-sections that aren’t medically necessary).
This is a book I wish I could have read before I had my daughter. I may still not have actually made a plan, but it’s really comforting just to know that there are options and different roads to take, and so long as your road ends with a healthy baby how you choose to get there should be up to you.
It’s a great read for moms to be, pregnant moms who may need a refresher or want a different birth experience from the one they had the first time, and for health professionals who want a deeper understanding of the options and choices pregnant women and their partners have before them.