OK, so this is looooong overdue, but several of my now-pregnant friends have been asking me to post our "birth plan," and share with them any revisions we would want to make, if we are so blessed to do this a second time around. Here's what we used!
And, of course, this little clause at the end is very important and can go a long way with developing rapport:
So what would we change for the next time?
1. Remind me not to push until I feel the urge! Next time, even if I know that I am fully dilated, I will wait to push until the urge comes upon me. Otherwise, this process will take a long time (as it did for me).
2. Furthermore, if I had not been so enthusiastic to push and instead had slowed down and allowed little Liam's precious head to stay in the last part of the birth canal longer, the outer part of me may have been given more time to slowly stretch, thus reducing the chance of tearing. So, in a future birth plan, I'll say something like, "Please allow the baby's head to stay visible for up to 15 minutes before the next push so that the skin can stretch." Who knows if this will be allowed, but it's worth discussing.
3. Although the chances of a woman getting pre-eclampsia is rare with her subsequent children, I think I'm going to have to insist on no magnesium sulfate, regardless. Or maybe it's the administration of pitocin (after the birth, to prevent further blood loss) which my body didn't like. Either way, those two are on my "never again" list.
4. No catheter next time! I didn't swell with a third degree laceration, so I'd rather be checked for swelling instead of taking the extreme precaution of it happening. Having a catheter equals a definite urinary tract infection for me, and this meant going on an antibiotic while breastfeeding. Definitely out of my comfort zone!
5. Please don't put the IV in my hand. My veins there just won't give anything. And please don't put the IV in my elbow area. That moves too much! Instead, use more forearm.
6. If the doctor or midwife is comfortable with it, I'd like their hands to frame my vaginal opening at the moment the baby is being born, so as to give my skin reinforcement and to prevent tearing. A friend of mine who delivered many babies, was proud to say that he never once had a woman tear under his watch, and he felt this technique was the reason for it. I totally forgot to include this in our birth plan!
And what would I do differently after coming home from the hospital?
1. No visitors! For the first full month and a half, I had visitors EVERY SINGLE DAY. It was beautiful and emotional and memorable -- but, mostly, it was painfully exhausting. And that inhibited my ability to enjoy those visits. So, if there is a next time, I need to retreat into a quiet place that is protected from this sort of joyful interference.
2. I've got to start side-nursing and co-sleeping immediately. It's the only way that a woman can get any rest after such an ordeal! I was so terrified of rolling over onto my baby (and my husband was so terrified that we'd be teaching our child to climb into our bed often), that I DIDN'T DO IT. And this meant I didn't sleep. At all. Since Liam nursed almost non-stop and could even reflexively nurse while he slept, I sat up and watched television almost non-stop. Days and weeks and months were passing me by and I'd only sleep for short bits of time (15 minutes) here and there. I have never felt so physically exhausted in my entire life. Never again! Hence, the side bed rail guard thingies need to go up immediately. Side-nursing and co-sleeping are a woman's best friend in those early days!
3. Food intake is critical. I should have asked for help with it because it would have been a great weapon against the battle I fought with exhaustion. An experienced mama I know, who has 5 kids of her own, said that after she gives birth, she asks a family member to watch the clock and come in and offer her food every 2 hours. She said, "I don't care what it is...and I won't have the focus to select anything...so just bring me ANYTHING to eat, every two hours." She explained that it could be a simple snack; she just needed to have new food going into her stomach every two hours. That, along with co-sleeping and side-feeding, was the best way to quickly bounce back, she explained.