Whether it’s your first child or your sixth, there’s a lot to do when preparing for parenthood–a whole new world of jargon to get acquainted with, items to research and purchase, and concerns to address.
One of the first concerns that chases through a woman’s mind when she sees the positive pregnancy test is the impending labor and delivery. Most everyone has heard a fair share of birth stories, usually with the “it-was-perfect!” anecdotes being severely overshadowed by the “everything-went-wrong!” stories.
Of course, more times than not, most parents come out of the experience dwelling on their blessing rather than the trauma, or lack thereof.
And fortunately for parents, new and experienced, in the Ozarks, there are a number of resources to help prep for labor and delivery.
Both CoxHealth and Mercy Hospital offer childbirth classes where pregnant mothers and accompanying partners can learn about pain management options, comfort and relaxation techniques, and labor and delivery policies.
Additionally, the Family Birth and Wellness Center in Springfield refers clients looking for childbirth classes to JuJuBabies, a local company also based out of Ozark that is owned and operated by Julie Cunningham White, a CAPPA certified childbirth educator and DONA certified doula (as well as a Healthy Moms Fitness certified Perinatal fitness instructor and a certified lactation counselor by the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice).
“Giving birth is a truly life-changing event,” Cunningham White says. “Whether you are planning an un-medicated (natural) childbirth or you plan to use medication, it is helpful and important to have excellent information and a good understanding of what to expect during labor and birth.
“Taking childbirth classes is an important step on the path toward a safer, more fulfilling birth experience,” she says.
Mercy Hospital has also partnered with Springfield Pregnancy Care Center to offer a condensed version of the hospital’s Labor and Birth classes to clients enrolled in the PCC program.
Many women have thought about their perfect birthing experience well before they even get pregnant. However, pregnancy brain takes over, and many forget to relay those expectations to their health care practitioner.
Then expectations are unmet, and the dream birthing experience becomes the next “everything-went-wrong!” story. That’s when a birth plan comes in handy.
“Birth plans allow health care providers to tailor the experience to meet a patient’s expectations,” says Christine Starnes, nurse educator at the CoxHealth Women’s Center. “Having a plan can help the mother and support team feel confident during labor.
”A more comprehensive list with the highest priority items may create a more positive birth experience, says Mary Ueland Walsh, owner/midwifery director at the Family Birth and Wellness Center.
“A birth plan should be an exercise for yourself in prioritizing what you really, really want,” Walsh says. “What are those five things that are the most important to you, even if a lot of things don’t go as you plan?
“If you give a doctor a list of 25 things you want in labor, s/he may go out of the way to honor half of them and ignore/nix the other half, and perhaps those are the ones that were the most important to you,” she says.
Some of the most common preferences that make a birth plan list are:
- Desire for a natural birth or pain/discomfort medications;
- Environmental requests, such as lighting, music, visitor restrictions;
- Preferences for labor positions; and
- Baby care and feeding choices, including immediate skin-to-skin contact and the decision to circumcise a male child or not.
Because procedures may differ from hospital to hospital or medical center, it’s important to discuss a birth plan before D-Day. For example, new trends include requesting delayed umbilical cord clamping and in-room newborn exams; the Family Birth and Wellness Center routinely offers these preferences, so including them on the birth plan can take up valuable space on the list.
Starnes, Walsh and Cunningham White are all mindful that communicating a birth plan can help create a positive birth experience, but it’s important to remain flexible when circumstances arise that may make fulfilling requests impossible or dangerous.
Whether you’re planning to deliver at a hospital, medical center, or in-home, “even if your birth plans change, you can still feel assured that your desires will be understood and considered” with a birth plan in hand, Cunningham White says.
“Studies have shown that when a woman in labor understands what is happening to her, is making her own decisions and has a good support system, she is more likely to have a positive birth experience,” she adds.
A birth plan is just a written record of the things that are important to you during your birth experience. Hospitals often have prepared birth plan forms online that you can print off and use, but many moms prefer to write their own birth plan.
— Julie Cunningham White, CCCE, CLC, CPFI, CD (DONA), Owner of JuJuBabies LLC
Prep and Planning Benefits
Benefits of childbirth education classes include:
- Building confidence in the body’s ability to give birth;
- Allowing expecting mothers/couples to discuss fears about labor and birth with an educated instructor and other couples with the same concerns;
- Learning about childbirth and how to offer support on the day of delivery
- Discussing pain relief options, including massage, relaxation, breathing and medications; and
- Touring your birthing facility, which will afford the opportunity to see the staff in action. (This is a great time to ask the instructor about the facility’s routine practices.)
Benefits of having a defined and flexible birth plan include:
- Informing health care providers about what the expectant mother is hoping for during labor and delivery;
- Opening the line of discussion between an expecting mother and her support team; and
- Potentially helping an expectant mother to feel confident and in control as much as possible, that she is part of the decision making process, even when the unexpected occurs.
Source: Cheryl Barratt, Nurse Director, Pregnancy Care Center
For more information:
CoxHealth Women’s Center
Phone: (417) 269-4664
Address: Turner Center, 1000 E. Primrose St., Springfield, 65806
Springfield Pregnancy Care Center
Phone: (417) 877-0800
Address: 1342 E. Primrose St., Springfield, 65804
Family Birth and Wellness Center
Phone: (417) 233-1100, ext. 101
Address: 2039 S. Brentwood Blvd., Springfield, 65804
Phone: (417) 844-9404