By Megan Powell
Birth plans. We’ve all heard we should have one. And it’s true. Having a laid-out plan of how you would ideally like the labour and birth to go is a good idea.
Having a back-up plan as well is even better.
As every mom knows, births sometimes don’t end up exactly as we may have imagined and we have to go with the flow.
Still, I think it’s important to know what you do and don’t want ahead of time and have this clearly written out or conveyed to your “team.”
I was fortunate that my first experience with labour and birth was straightforward and went well, pretty much according to my birth plan. And while the home birth was good, I’m lucky we didn’t need to change plans or transfer to the hospital because, as prepared as I though I was, I don’t recall having much more packed in our “emergency hospital bag” then a few basic clothing items and a toothbrush.
Still, I felt pretty prepared for whatever the physical birth itself had to throw at me.
My partner and I had watched almost every documentary there is on natural birth, I’d read my weight in books, we’d taken the birth classes at our midwifery clinic, and we’d gone over in detail with our midwife all of my wishes, concerns and plans.
I dutifully did my kegels, took afternoon naps almost on a daily basis, and we hired a doula to help us, which, in hindsight, was one of the best labour-related decisions we made.
All in all, I felt as ready as a first-time mom can feel, even if I wasn’t entirely sure yet what labour would entail.
But now . . .
This time round, as strange as it sounds, I feel far less ready.
Yes, my body knows what it’s doing, it’s done it before, and I know it will likely all come flooding back to me once labour starts.
But along with not having the nursery ready, still having a 10-page to-do-before-baby-arrives list, and not getting as much sleep as I would prefer, I’m feeling more stressed this time around.
Maybe it’s because I’m so preoccupied caring for my 3-year-old, or that this winter has been especially cold and tough, but this pregnancy seems to have been working in fast-forward mode.
I also know full well that the baby can technically arrive safely and “on time” anywhere from 37-42 weeks, yet I’m one of those rare moms who is fine with being late and is hoping my little one stays put inside at least until close to my estimated due date.
I can really use a bit more time not only to get necessities done but also to plan the birth out a bit more.
One big check mark: the doula
Thankfully, this past week has seen some progression in our birth plan. We finally “hired” our doula (our doula from my first birth no longer does birth support), which is a big check off the list.
While I initially thought a doula was more of a first-time-mom luxury, it’s now hard for me to envision giving birth without the help of that third party.
As amazing and supportive as my hubby is (and he really is), he only knows so much . . . he’s a man, after all!
I know we were both really appreciative to have that much-needed help during labour. I was so happy with the care and skill of our midwives but, just like any other birth medical practitioner, they are very busy with the whole medical side of things—monitoring, writing in charts, etc., and they can’t be expected to sit and apply counter-pressure on your back for every contraction.
So, the doula’s covered.
Still on the list
But the logistics regarding our son and where he’ll be still need to be sorted out. We debated having him at the birth for the very end, as he seems really interested in learning about birth, but after asking him how he felt about that and hearing his answer—I’ll just hide under my covers!”—it pretty much seals the deal that my mom will be taking him to her house until after the baby is born. We should probably confirm that with her though . . .
I’d also like to be more prepared with an emergency hospital bag, as well as labour snacks and post-partum food and other essentials. I know I wasn’t too keen on eating much during my first labour, but I want to ensure I have some easy snacks like protein bars and cut-up fruit for during the labour in case I do want something this time.
Also, do I need a birth “playlist”? (I didn’t have music on last time). And what about essential oils in a diffuser? An exercise ball to move around on? So many things to think about . . .
The second time around, things are definitely different, and while a birth plan is essential for every birth, it’s undoubtedly altered for subsequent babies since you have different things to think about and less free time to do so.
And it’s such a personal thing, no one else can really help with it.
This week my goal is to write out a basic birth plan, figure out any supplies we still need, and think about what I should pack in our emergency bag.
Oh, and did I mention work on the nursery? Yep, it’s still not done. But hey, we just put a glider in there and I’m washing up blankets & sheets this week. Baby steps . . .
Follow along as Megan Powell prepares for her second baby—due this spring—while chasing her energetic 3-year-old and trying to squeeze in bathroom breaks and naps. Megan also blogs at henfamily.com