Birth Doula Blog
Birth Plans Help Explore Your Wishes and Prepare You For the Unexpected
A birth plan or birth preference list is a helpful way to honor your choices. No matter what kind of birth you want, a good list will have you thinking about all the possibilities during labor, the immediate postpartum hours, and newborn procedures. It's important to understand that no one can guarantee your experience and that it's always a good idea to be open to different paths.
There is lots of research to be done but all that knowledge will help you feel prepared. Also, you DO have choices and can turn down most procedures if you're not comfortable with them! Having a supportive and non-biased person like a doula can help you see clearly at a time when emotions are intense.
Hack Your Brain to Help You Overcome Your Fear of Childbirth
So, here you are...pregnant and thinking of the inevitable - the day you give birth.
You’re a smart cookie and I won’t sugarcoat it. Labor hurts. There, I said it! And you can too. There’s no sense in denying the pain or pretending it’s anything else but painful. You might think back to that time you stubbed your toe, the accident you had, or your period cramps and thought “There’s absolutely NO WAY I can handle labor contractions!” Well, you’re not alone. The unknown is scary but, friend, I am here to give you a few pearls of wisdom.
Help, I'm Past 40 Weeks!
First off, relax! Due dates aren't an exact science and when your little one makes her debut can't really be predicted. In fact, only 5% of babies are born on their due date. What triggers labor isn't entirely clear but many studies show that when baby's lungs are developed she releases a hormone that begins labor. So if she hasn't come yet, chances are she's not ready. In fact, most first-time mothers deliver up to a week after their due date.
Forty weeks is a pretty good guess but isn't one size fits all. If you're feeling great and baby is healthy then take a deep breath and enjoy your extra "alone time." If you haven't had any signs of labor starting, don't worry. Sometimes all the things happen within one day! That is, you lose your mucous plug, have bloody show, begin contractions, efface, and baby drops within hours of each other.
If the wait is just killing you or you're over being pregnant then reach out to support groups to vent or you could try safe, non-chemical ways to induce.
Although it may feel like it, you won't be pregnant forever!
If your physician is recommending an induction before 42 weeks, you have every right to decline, assuming you and baby are healthy. Ask them to provide you with evidence-based reasons as to why an induction is necessary, get a second opinion, retake tests, and listen to your intuition.
Use BRAIN to help...consider the Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, what your Intuition says, and what if you do Nothing. A pregnancy greater than 42 weeks does carry risks so be sure to keep that in mind.
Short answer: No, but they're YOUR choice!
This exam allows the physician to know the status of your cervix...whether it's dilated, ripe, or effaced, and baby's position. However, the physical changes to your cervix aren't the only indicators of a progressive labor. You also need strong and effective contractions and a change in your behavior, where you become much more focused.
Many women don't know they can actually decline vaginal exams during labor. Studies show that routine vaginal exams during labor tend to lead to more interventions and aren't accurate because they're based on the staff's perception. A nurse might declare you to be 6 cm dilated but later an OB with much larger hands might say you're actually 5 cm dilated. The risk of infection also increases every time a check is performed, especially if your water has broken. Also, they hurt like a mother!
One of the biggest drawbacks to this exam is that it can negatively affect the laboring person's resolve and determination. If you're feeling great and in control but are then told you're not as dilated as you feel or haven't dilated enough since your last exam (failure to progress), then you'll likely stress out and begin feeling hopeless. These negative emotions will release stress hormones which can actually stall your labor.
That being said, if you really want to know how dilated you are... the recommendation is no more than one exam every 4 hours and be sure to always get CONSENT. It's important to let your provider know how you feel about vaginal exams during your prenatal visits. Be sure they understand your concerns, support your choice, and are able to provide you evidence-based reasons as to why they believe they are necessary.
Remember that you're more than a number!