Will You Be Able To Use Them?

Nurse and patient advocate Carolyn Rafferty, RN, BSN, can answer your childbirth questions! Send them to her here.
Carolyn Rafferty, RN, BSN

Your question:
I took a prepared childbirth education class and was given a lot of tools to use during labor and birth. How likely will it be that I am actually able to use them?

The expert answers:
Congratulations and kudos to you for taking childbirth classes. Many new parents don't make the time in their busy schedules to take childbirth classes any more and feel that if they are planning on epidural anesthesia that they don't need childbirth classes. That couldn't be farther from the truth. You learn so much more than how to manage labor discomfort during childbirth education.

Childbirth education provides an opportunity for expecting mothers and their support person to have special focused time on the pregnancy. It makes you take time out of your busy life to think about and learn about what is to come. Remember, you cannot make informed decisions for you and your baby around labor, birth, breastfeeding, circumcision, etc. unless you take the time to get informed.

Now, once you have the information it is in part up to you as to how successful you will be in following through with your plans. Have you chosen the right provider? Do they support your goals? Will they give the nurses in the hospital (if you plan to birth in a hospital) permission to utilize the strategies and avoid the interventions you have discussed in your birth plan?

If you discuss your ideas with your provider and they suggest that some or many of the plans you have made may not be possible then you have to ask them hard questions. Why not? What will happen if you refuse interventions? Under what circumstances might you be expected to alter your birth plan? If you don't like the answers to theses questions then change providers if you are able. Remember, it is your birth. If you are an educated and reasonable consumer of maternity care you should be able to get the birth you want.

If you are concerned that your provider will honor your birth plan but that the nursing staff at the hospital where you plan to give birth will not I suggest the following:

  • Ask your childbirth educator if she has contacts of other parents that have given birth recently and find out what their experiences were

  • Call ahead and speak with the day time and night time charge nurses on the actual birth unit and ask them the hard questions, find out the philosophy of the unit

  • If you are still not convinced then call and speak with the director of the unit and make sure you get your questions answered

    Remember, you are a medical service consumer and you may have the option to take your business elsewhere! Keep your plan fluid and prepared for possible alteration due to your specific medical needs but low risk birth can happen without a ton of intervention -- if you want it to. You may also want to find a doula and use her as a sounding board or for information about the culture where you plan to birth. PregnancyAndBaby.com
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