The Birth Plan
With so many options, determining and communicating her wishes requires they be written down. This is called a birth plan, and it should accompany you into the hospital to be used as a reference for attending medical personnel.
The birth plan can address any issue you want to be clear on with those involved in the birth, including whether she wants to have an epidural, who you want to attend during the birth, your wishes on a C-section, etc. Childbirth education classes will provide a great deal more information on birth choices and planning.
Remember the birth plan is a “plan,” not fixed in stone, so be prepared to deviate from it. Your wife may develop a different view on abstaining from an epidural as labor progresses. Most doctors or midwives will adhere to a birth plan, but under certain medical conditions, they might need to change course where they see fit. But a plan is crucial, especially so you can be clear about your partner’s and your own desires. It will be up to you to advocate for choices once it’s time for the birth.
For a sample birth plan, and to fill one out online, visit http://birthplan.com.
Define Your Choices
You have some options for participation as well, and the birth plan provides an opportunity to think them through:
- Do you want to cut the umbilical cord?
- Are there other ways you would like to participate in the birth?
- How soon after birth do you want to hold your baby?
- Would you like the doctor to hand you the baby so you can give her to mom?
- If your baby needs to be taken anywhere, do you want to go with him?
Who Do You Want in the Birth Room?
The birth plan should incorporate guidelines you and mom set regarding the role of friends and relatives at the hospital. This is a special time for mom and dad to share, particularly with a first child, and the medical personnel provide all the necessary assistance. Stick with the guidelines and do not let anyone intrude. The nurses will be very helpful in this regard, as long as you ask them for their support.
It may seem like fun to have relatives or friends there to take pictures and video, but think carefully: It’s difficult to ask people to leave once they arrive. Birthing can be a messy, arduous, frightening process; a woman is exposed and not in control. If you and mom want to document this tremendous event, it might be wise to assign the task to a trusted, sensitive friend or relative and let everyone else meet the baby after he’s safely in his mother’s arms.
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