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Having a Baby: Birth Plans & Stages of Labor

Diane Luke
Senior Editor, TipsHire

Having a baby is maybe the most beautiful part of every woman’s life and every woman in this world should wish for delivering a beautiful healthy baby. Knowing exactly how your childbirth day will be, may be very helpful for you and your baby. Birth plans are one method to get yourself prepared and to schedule, alongside with the gynecologist, your obstetrician, or the maternity’s personnel, every detail of your childbirth. Also, learning about how a labor takes place and which are the stages of labor will make you feel more prepared and will definitely make you be calmer when the labor begins.

Many pregnant women limit a birth plan to the way they will give birth (natural or C-section), where they give birth (home, public clinic or private clinic), and who to choose as their gynecologist that will oversee their pregnancies.

In fact, the birth plans are official documents in which the prospective parents and the gynecologist and/or the obstetrician are completing, scheduling every detail regarding the childbirth, from the person of the future mother’s family who will attend the delivery, to the postpartum details.

What exactly are these birth plans?

According to the experts in this particular field, the birth plans are official documents through which the future parents are formal expressing their choices on how they want the childbirth experience to take place, in all its aspects.

This official document that is the birth plan, or form if you want, must be completed and signed by the pregnant woman and her companion and registered at the medical institution where the birth will take place.

Birth plans are the ideal way to communicate your preferences regarding the act of birth so you will be more relaxed knowing that you’ll live the childbirth experience as you dreamed about it.

On the other hand, this will also determine in advance whether you want to have a companion during labor, or not, if you opt for a natural removal of the placenta or for a hormones treatment, or if you want your baby to be breastfed or to go for a milk formula supplement.

Although, you will not be able to control any unforeseen moments of the childbirth, such as birth complications, so, a birth plan is not your bullet proof vest. Also, a birth plan is not a document that will keep you and your baby safe from malpractice, so choose your gynecologists and obstetricians wisely.

A birth plan is available only for normal developing pregnancies that don’t show any risks, and can only be completed and signed under a doctor’s surveillance and only after the doctor is evaluating your pregnancy.

The benefits of the birth plans

Birth plans are in trend in many countries around the world and it is believed that soon these documents will represent a vital ‘tool’ in the relationship between the pregnant women and the chosen maternity’s personnel.

Birth plans’ benefits are:

  • pregnant women will be informed regarding all the stages of birth
  • officially stating your desires on how your delivery will take place
  • will force your doctors to be more cautious on any changes that may occur during your pregnancy and to make sure that there are no serious complications

What details should be covered by the birth plans?

Here is a scheme which should be reflected in each birth plan. Each chapter should be detailing your options:

Detailed report on the health of the patient

A brief assessment of the pregnancy

Provisions concerning the relationship between the patient and the medical team

Provisions on the general environment in which the delivery will take place and on the desired privacy

Provisions on patient’s companion

Provisions related to cesarean section, if applicable

Provisions regarding induction of labor, when needed

Provisions for carrying out labor

Provisions on expulsion

Provisions on postpartum period

Provisions concerning breastfeeding

Additional notes

The stages of labor.

The labor begins as a hormonal response. Under the influence of these hormones, the uterus begins to have contractions. The water can break first, without having any contractions. On the other hand, the contractions can occur before the moment when the water breaks, after or even at the end of labor

If you are under a drug-induced labor, the hormones administered will go directly into your bloodstream, stimulating the uterine contractions.

The first phase of the labor, or the beginning of labor.

The baby is pushed down very close to the birth canal, usually in a favorable birth position, that it is upside down (baby’s head is down). In this stage of labor, the contractions are more frequent and last longer.

Normally, contractions last between 40 and 50 seconds and occur once every 10 minutes in the first phase. Towards the end of this phase, a contraction may last for about 1 minute, and contractions may occur once every 30 seconds. In the first stage of labor, you can change your position often, lie down or lean.

The labor is not always smoothly and progressively intense. From time to time contractions can slow down in intensity, or even cease. Try to keep your coolness and try to walk or sit in a different position while expecting contractions to occur again.

If contractions are not occurring after a long period, doctors can:

  • stimulate contractions by injecting you with hormones (most often synthetic oxytocin)
  • opt for an artificial rupture of the membranes (forcing your water to break)

The biggest disadvantages that rely on these procedures are that afterward, you may experience some very strong and unbearable contractions.

The second phase of the labor.

After the active phase of the labor, this secondary phase is the transitional phase in which the actual birth takes place, which usually takes less time than the first phase.

Of course, the birth process can vary from woman to woman, can be quick or can be difficult and take several hours.

This second phase begins when the cervix has reached its full expansion (about 4 inches) and you feel the need to push your baby out.

The doctor or the midwife who assists you during childbirth will tell you when to push, when to abstain, how to coordinate your efforts with the breathing, or even how to breathe to make it easier for you.

These tips may prevent a perineal tear which could happen if the baby is pushed too quickly and suddenly.

Few more contractions and pushes and your baby will be born.

The third phase of the labor.

In this phase occurs the placental expulsion process, which takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes, and most probably will be imperceptible to you because you will be watching your baby, kissing him, or holding him.

It may be necessary to give one or two more pushes to help the doctor to remove the placenta. The placenta is removed from inside the uterus and the blood vessels are closed, so bleeding will stop after this, in regular cases.

Now that you know all those, think about how you want your delivery to be, talk with your partner, your doctor or your maternity’s personnel and go for a birth plan, which is the best method to schedule in time all the details regarding the way your future childbirth should take place.

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Having a Baby: Birth Plans & Stages of Labor
Having a baby is maybe the most beautiful part of every woman's life and every woman in this world should wish for delivering a beautiful healthy baby. Knowing exactly how your childbirth day will be, may be very helpful for you and your baby. Birth plans are one method to get yourself prepared and to schedule, alongside with the gynecologist, your obstetrician, or the maternity's personnel, every detail of your childbirth.
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