Friday, February 20, 2015

How We Prepared For Our Hospital Birth

A few months ago (yikes, where does the time go) I posted as to why Hubby and I chose a hospital birth over a home birth.

As I promised in that post, this is how we prepared for our hospital birth, and choices we made that we feel made the experience very positive, healthy, predictable, and joyful.

The most important thing we did in in preparing for our birth... was PREPARE FOR OUR BIRTH.

Yes, I realize I just said the same thing, and yet I couldn't believe how many first-time pregnant moms with whom I spoke hadn't prepared for the birth.  Sure, they had a beautiful nursery, really cute baby clothes, they had their newborn photo shoot booked... but they had not done any preparation for the BIRTH of their child.  At most maybe they had toured the hospital and decided which room they thought looked most cozy.

Hubby and I prepared for the BIRTH starting seven months before our baby was born, and kept studying up until D-Day.  My body was spending nine months preparing itself for the major event of birth... my mind, spirit, and husband needed to prepare as well.

During my first trimester, I read, Husband-Coached Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley, and Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon.  These books helped me even begin to mentally prepare for what it would mean to give birth and decide if I wanted to try to give birth naturally, and if I thought The Bradley Method would be the right choice for me.

After much research, I found a Bradley instructor in my area and signed Hubby and me up for the twelve-session class beginning in October (our baby was due in February).

The Bradley Classes were amazing, and helped both Hubby and me to prepare for everything from pre-labor, to relaxation techniques, to routine labor, to what to do if unforeseen circumstances arise.  To read more about our Bradley experience see this post or the Bradley Label of the blog posts.

The Bradley Classes involved class sessions, workbook homework assignments, physical homework for both my husband and me, and physical exercises for me to practice.

I had shared the face I was studying the Bradley Method with my OBGYN doctors, but within a month of my due date, I went online and used a few websites to help me actually write out a birth plan.

I used several birth plan websites, but I believe the one from which I drew the most information was

My birth plan outlined the training I had had, how I planned to handle Labor, Induction and Labor Augmentation, Anesthesia, Cesarean Section Delivery, Delivery, Immediately after the Birth, Newborn Care, Postpartum Care, and Breastfeeding.  Yes, it was not a short document.  It was mostly made up of headings and bullet-points, with some bold for a couple of important details such as "Please do not announce the baby's gender.  My husband will do this when he sees for himself," and "Please do not offer me any anesthesia unless I ask for it."

I then took this birth plan with me to every doctor's appointment I had during my last month of pregnancy and discussed it with each of my doctors.  (When I say "each of my doctors" there are four OBGYNs in the practice, and, by not knowing when the baby would arrive, whichever physician was on call when I delivered the baby would be my doctor.  So, during my last 6 weeks of pregnancy, I had a doctors appointment with each of the four doctors who might delivery the baby.

I thought it would be a pretty simple process, hand off the birth plan, and tell them I'd see them at the birth.  Each and every physician took the birth plan and read through the entire thing, there, in the room with me, as soon as I gave it to them.  They also, each, told me point-by-point the aspects of the birth plan that they did not like.

Although from the same practice, each doctor had different parts of the birth plan that they would not agree to.  It was through this process, that I learned which of the four obstetricians aligned most closely with my plans for childbirth. 

In fact, it was through this process that I learned that the obstetrician that I had been seeing has my primary doctor informed me that would not agree to not offering anesthesia.  There was more to the conversation, which ended with me, sitting in my car, on the phone with Hubby, crying and wondering if home birth was not the better way to go.

Again, it was through my written birth plan, that Hubby and I learned which doctor most closely aligned with and supported our plan for labor and delivery, and we started praying like crazy that she would be on call when the time came for my birth.  God is wonderful, and she was on call the entire time I labored and delivered.

Hubby and I also toured the hospital, which was nice to learn the layout, although I think it benefited Hubby more than it did me.  I didn't do a lot of traveling around the maternity ward once we arrived.

I would say, of everything we did to prepare for our hospital birth, the most important thing Hubby and I did was study together.  For us, it meant Bradley classes, but going into labor and delivery we BOTH felt ready for a test -- we had prepared and studied, both together and a part, and we both had our own roles to play during our final exam.

Hubby knew to stay calm, and relax me, and not let the pain I was in impact his actions and decision making.  It is not uncommon for a woman to be encouraged to get an epidural because her husband is so upset watching her in pain.  He is the one tracking down the nurse and demanding that someone help his wife.  If a husband is acting like that, you better believe, the hospital staff will respond.

We remained very calm, informed, and felt very in control of our hospital birth the entire time.

Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions about the manner in which we prepared for our hospital birth.

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