With our fourth baby arriving in the New Year, I have been preparing my mind, body, spirit and home. The first place to begin is with a birth plan. A birth plan is a document that’s also known as a “Birth Wish” or “Birth Preference”. The birth plan will relate what you want to experience during your birth, including your wants and needs, to midwives, your husband, and to practically anyone who will be with you during delivery.
My husband and I delivered our first son in a hospital and we had a birth plan that communicated with the staff how we wanted our birth to go. If you too are planning to have a hospital birth, I highly recommend this. We printed off several copies because nurses changed shifts during my labor. All of the nurses welcomed our birth plan and were very happy to help assist us in the birth we desired.
Without a birth plan, you are kind of just winging it and they are more inclined to tell you what to do during your labor and birth. When you take some time to create one, you can set your priorities for both long and short term.
- It will remind you of what is important to you during your baby’s birth.
- This will serve as a reference for your partner and your main tool to communicate your preferences or choices to your caregivers.
- Even if the birth doesn’t go as planned, you are sure that you will make informed choices. It’s like going on a birthing adventure with an educated, well-sorted plan.
With the rest of our children, we have chosen to have them in the comfort of our own home with an amazing midwife! There are many personal reasons why we choose birthing at home, but we still create a birth plan with every baby.
I want to share with you what mine looks like and how I use it to prepare mentally, physically and spiritually. I have found it to be very beneficial for my husband too. I believe the best pain reliever during labor is the husband. If your husband is feeling inadequate or has no idea how to assist you during your labor, creating a birth plan together will help him see his active role in the arrival of your new baby.
Sometimes, they just have no idea how to help or comfort you, especially if this is your first birth. So take some time to think over how he can be there for you. I will share some ways my husband has been an ultimate source of strength during our labor and deliveries.
A Home Birth Plan
I will start with a home birth plan because this can be modified easily for a hospital birth too.
Early Labor Phase –The time of the onset of labor until the cervix is dilated to 3 cm
-Begin preparing birth area (I will cover this in another post)
-Call parents to come and help with our kids
-Play relaxation CD or playlist. I go back and forth between my favorite worship songs and acoustic guitar.
-Diffuse: 2 drops of peppermint and 2 drops of tangerine or wild orange
-Apply rollerball to feet and spine (see recipe below)
-Breathe deeply and slowly during contractions (try to count 8 breaths in and out)
Active Labor Phase – Continues from 3 cm. until the cervix is dilated to 7 cm
-Have Graham massage my back and shoulders with essential oil blend during contractions to keep me relaxed
-Diffuse: 2 drops of Rose or Clary Sage
-Rotate between the birthing ball and shower (keep moving around)
-Have Graham’s prerecorded scripture readings and prayers playing out loud to me
-Go through visualizations for my birth (pre recorded)
-Have Graham prepare water in the birthing tub
Transition Phase – Continues from 7 cm. until the cervix is fully dilated to 10 cm.
-Have Graham massage my back and shoulders with this essential oil blend in between contractions to keep me relaxed and prepare me for the next one (see recipe below)
-Diffuse: 2 drops of Jasmine and 2 Drops of Lemon
-Relax in the birthing tub and add 2 drops of Lavender oil (we are doing a water birth this time)
-Prepare the receiving blanket and towels I will need when I get out of the birthing pool
-Have Graham massage my neck and head during contractions and repeat “lavender” to me. This is my “go deeper” word and will help me remember to relax instead of tense up
-Deliver in the position I desire and give praise to God!!!
Let’s Go A Little Deeper
The Early Labor Phase
Our bodies release their own natural painkilling chemicals called endorphins. Our bodies are more adept at releasing endorphins when the mind and body are relaxed. Research has proven that deep breathing improves blood oxygen levels, which in turn enables the brain and spinal cord to release endorphins. Staying relaxed and calm, particularly in the early stages of labor, is desirable in order to reduce the buildup of stress hormones that allow the body’s natural endorphins to be released.
I used the HypnoBirthing Method with all of my births because it helped me understand how import the breath is during labor. It should be your mission to stay relaxed during contractions which is the exact opposite of what our body wants to do. One way to help you stay relaxed is to have your husband massage you during contractions with essential oils. Listening to your husbands voice (we recorded these before birth and played them on my phone) is also very relaxing and will help with the release of pain killing endorphins.
Early Labor Phase Oil Rollerball
2 drops of Frankincense
5 drops of Lavender
3 drops of Lemon
1 drop of Peppermint
1 drop of Tangerine
The Active Labor Phase
It is during this phase that labor may feel like it is slowing or taking longer than it should. All births are different and babies will come when they come, but one thing that will progress labor is movement. During my hospital birth, I made it clear in my birth plan that I did not want an IV, because I knew it would limit my movement. I wanted to be able to walk around and keep working with gravity. With my home births, I was constantly moving. I would walk in between contractions, sit on a ball, sit on the edge of the tub with a warm foot bath, or sway in the shower with running water.
Have your husband massage your active labor essential oil blend during or between your contractions. Rose and Roman Chamomile are shown to help improve contractions.
Active Labor Phase Oil Recipe:
2 drops of Rose
5 drops of Roman Chamomile
3 drops of Clary Sage
2 drops of Lemon
The Transition Labor Phase
I have always reached this part in labor with the phrase “I can’t do this!” and that is how I know I am super close to meeting my baby. At this point in labor, I am listening to scripts non stop because the voice of my husband is so comforting. I have my eyes closed most of the time and am really focused on deep breathing as the contractions are pretty much back to back. I will be sharing some biblical scripts and prayers I will be using for our home birth this time in future posts.
Transition Phase Labor Oil Recipe:
2 drops of Jasmine
5 drops of Roman Chamomile
3 drops of Eucalyptus
2 drops of Tangerine
A Hospital Birth Plan
It’s definitely important to identify and prepare for your plan A birth scenario, but be prepared for plan B and C too, practically and emotionally – knowing that no matter how your baby is born, you can stay calm and in control, no matter what.
Here is a link to a birth plan template we used during our hospital birth. It is very detailed but will ensure you get the natural birth you desire. I have talked to many mothers who go in longing for a natural birth but fall victim to the instructions and methods of the staff. This is your birth and you are in control.
There’s no such thing as a ‘perfect birth’ (we’re all different) but being at the centre of decision-making means that you can look back on your experience positively, no matter what path your baby’s birth takes.
A birth plan is invaluable in helping you to communicate with your caregivers. This is your voice at a time when you might not wish to speak a great deal, or be disturbed unnecessarily.