At a visit with my midwife last week, she handed me a white binder with a picture of a lamb on the front.
“These are all of the instructions you need for the hospital, including your discharge instructions,” she explained. “Fill out the birth plan inside, and make sure to bring this with you to the hospital when you go into labor.”
What!?!? It’s that time already? Holy cow!
Since I’ve received one of these binders before, I knew what was inside: an explanation of how our hospital handles labor and delivery, descriptions of the birthing techniques and medicines available, and lots of information about how to care for new babies and new mamas. I just didn’t feel quite ready for all of that just yet. But I know from last time, babies arrive on their own schedules. So I figured it was time to sit down and review.
It turns out—this time more so than the last—I’m incredibly impressed by the options available to me. If I want to try to have a natural childbirth, there are all sorts of techniques I can try. I can use a whirlpool tub or a birthing ball, I can walk around, I can bring in my own snacks and music, and I can have friends there to support me. If the natural route is not working out, there’s a whole list of pain medicines available to make me feel more comfortable.
I also get to choose how much I want to care for our new baby. She can stay in my room the entire time we’re in the hospital. I can send her to the nursery for short periods, or I can choose for her to stay in the nursery for longer periods. I can also have Paul spend the night in our room, if I want. Those are a lot of great options – something that makes me feel empowered and extremely lucky.
When Aaron was born, I started having pretty strong contractions about two weeks before my due date. He had been in the breech position (which means head up), and our doctor had turned him manually in a procedure called an external version. It worked, but it sent me into premature labor. So I hung out at the hospital for three days waiting to see if the contractions would stop. They didn’t, and he was born on the fourth day – a long process that left me feeling pretty tired. I had wanted to try for a natural childbirth, but by the time I reached full labor, I was just too tired. I had two intrathecal injections – basically anesthetic shots into my lower back – which dulled the pain, but still allowed me to move around freely. At the time, I was so happy to have them!
This time, I would like to try the natural route again. I’m hoping this labor goes more quickly, as second births are supposed to. (Meaning I won’t have to endure four days of contractions.) That said, I learned last time that what happens during labor and birth is largely up to my body and the baby. So if I need medicine or additional interventions, I’m open to that too. The whole point, after all, isn’t a fulfilling labor – it’s a healthy little girl.