Disclaimer: I know there are tons of women who have real emergency c-sections. They make the best decisions for themselves and their babies, and they are responsible women who give birth to amazingly beautiful and healthy children. My hat is off to them — I don’t think many women go into the L&D room wanting a c-section, and I applaud their bravery, hope for their speedy recoveries, and wish all the best to their babies and partners.
That said, I think this video has a lot of value, and it’s a pretty damn good laugh, if you take it in the right spirit … Enjoy.
If you’ve had anything to do with me for the past few weeks, you’ll know that I’ve been taken over by a cloth diaper obsession. Some people would totally balk at this, because they don’t like the idea. That’s cool by me. But I’ve got to tell you, some of those little tiny diapers with kangaroo and chickadee prints are the cutest friggin things I’ve ever seen. So don’t knock it until you’ve done endless hours of online research and window shopping.
What does this have to do with the title of my post? Cloth for ladies? Well, it has a little to do with it. Babies aren’t the only ones that get cute handmade cloth these days: ladies can have it too! (If you are squeamish about reading stuff having to do with PERIODS and MENSTRUATION, please stop reading here. Again, folks, I’m not squeamish about that stuff. Natural processes, natural body parts, etc etc. So I’m going to happily write about it, and if you want to go on your way, please do so.)
In the cloth diapering and green family community, babies aren’t the only ones to get cloth. What did ladies use before the invention of Tampax and plastic pads? Why, they used cloth of course. And thanks to modern fabric like ZORB, bamboo and hemp terry, and PUL (polyurethane laminate), there can be absorbent, waterproof, thin pads that sit softly against your skin. In fact, there’s a booming internet business dedicated to selling cloth pads for ladies.
I’ll take a minute to acknowledge that some people might think this is totally gross. I think I said before (in my first cloth diapering post) that it’s about how you perceive grossness. I hate disposable pads and tampons and haven’t used them since 2007. I don’t like how they feel, I don’t like how they smell, and I don’t like throwing away so much garbage. That’s just how I roll with that particular thing.
That said, I haven’t considered mama cloth until recently. What was I using? I used the Keeper up until my pregnancy. I got it in January of 2007 for $30 (now they are running $35), and I used it for a solid three years. That’s $10 a year. You’d probably spend $4-5 a month on pads and tampons, which would be about $60 a year. I figure I’ve already saved about $150 in that regard. Oh yeah, and again, gross mention, close your eyes if you can’t handle it, but I haven’t had a single yeast infection or UTI since I started using the Keeper. It could be a coincidence, but hey, it’s true. (That’s my little advertisement for the Keeper. You can also get the Diva Cup — available at Whole Foods or other natural foods stores — or the Lady Cup, made in Europe and available to us Americans on Ebay.)
Well, the Keeper was enough for me. Why isn’t it still?
There’s this little thing called lochia. I’m really not going to explain it since you can google it for yourself. I can just say that after you give birth, your body begins to heal, and from what I hear, you definitely need pads — tampons or cups like the Keeper are unacceptable given the tenderness of your hoo-ha and your body’s natural healing process. Well, call me crazy, but I decided I really didn’t want to use Poise or Always. So I got some cloth.
The first place I searched was Amazon. I KNEW there had to be cloth pads out there! I found Imse Vimse, a bigger name brand that also produces some high end cloth diapers. I ended up getting a set of overnight pads because the price was right, and the reviews weren’t too bad. A ton of other cloth diaper manufacturers make pads — Sckoon, Fuzzi Bunz, Happy Heinys, Knickernappies … they’re all out there. Do a search for cloth sanitary pads, and you’ll find tons of the name brand items. Luna Pads and Willow Pads are also some big names. Check them out.
Well, you say, I see those boring white Imse Vimse pads in your picture, but where’s the cute stuff from?
It’s from Etsy. For those of you who are already addicted, you know the glory of Etsy. I found this shop that makes cloth napkins and breast pads. The robot breast pads are from this talented lady, as are the super duper cool 15 inch postpartum pads, the skull and crossbones pad, and the yellow monkey liners. Flannel, lovely, soft — and waterproof! The other two, with the monkey/jungle designs, are from this shop, which mostly boasts cloth diapers, but occasionally stocks reasonably priced packs of pads. I just feel nice having some cute prints.
Lots of other ladies make handmade pads — you can find them on Etsy or on Hyena Cart.
Okay … questions?
- But won’t they leak? Most fans say absolutely not at all. They are backed with a waterproof barrier — fleece, wool, or PUL.
- How do you wash them? In the washer! Cold water. I plan to rinse mine in cold water before washing.
- How do you store dirty ones? In a waterproof bag.
- How many do you need? Probably about 12 for a normal period. More if you like!
So that’s my post on cloth pads (and you can see my soft, cloth breast pads in the picture too). Some might think I’m crazy, but hey, the prints are cute, the fabric is absorbent, the environment is healthier, and they’re reusable! What’s not to like?
Right now, my husband and I both work full time. I am certainly on vacation for a bit, and will be hitting maternity leave as soon as this cute little one decides to make his grand appearance into the world. I — like many women — have faced the fact that I do not live in Europe or Canada, where employers give totally badass maternity leave (like fourteen months!). I’ll spout my belief gladly right here, and this could certainly spawn another post: this country that supposedly promotes family values doesn’t put its money where its mouth is. Read this article for more information. USA? Great place for freedoms of many kinds, I suppose. Not a great place to be a new mom.
Instead of fourteen months, I get eight weeks. Many others get six weeks, and really the best I’ve heard of is three months (at my former job at UCSB). (And some people don’t get ANY leave whatsoever, which is complete suck.) Some folks combine their maternity leave with a saved up chunk of vacation, short term disability, sick leave, personal leave, or comp time. Still others opt to work part time for a while after they run out of their time, or they get a good work from home type of gig. Then there are the all-or-nothing type of ladies: I’m going to stay at home full-time, or I’m going to go back to work full-time. Since a lot of us ladies fall into the categories that don’t include the option (or desire) to be a full time SAHM, we’ve got to deal with one big, screaming issue: daycare.
Why is it an issue? Let me holler at you on that one.
1. If you’re breastfeeding, you may not have even gotten the swing of it by six weeks. It takes four to six weeks to really establish your milk supply and get rolling with the nursing procedure. You’re not really supposed to start pumping until four weeks after your baby is born, because you want them to go for the breast first, and not get attached to the swift flow of the bottle. Even if you’re pumping … or formula feeding … there are more concerns …
2. YOU are still healing. Your body may still be adjusting after such a major event. Not to mention that you are adjusting to a way altered sleep schedule, a shifting set of priorities, and a whole new full time job as a mom. Yikes! Do I want to go back to work during that time? Me? Personally? No.
3. Well, say you have to go back to work — or you really want to. What do they do with little babies — pre-crawling babies — in most daycares? They stick them in plastic bins. Is that the high touch existence your baby is used to? Does your baby get held when she’s crying, changed immediately when she’s wet, fed on demand? Most likely not. The daycare employees are most likely chasing after the crawlers and toddlers. Even if there’s separate care for infants, you can bet it’s not the care you would give as a mom or a dad. And what if you want to use cloth diapers? It depends by state. Check it out. In VA, I’ll have to get a doctor’s note saying that my son must wear cloth. It’s too much of a hassle for the staff otherwise.
Of course, many families have a great experience with the childcare that they choose. The best way, as you might guess, is to be informed about your options and make a strong decision. So what are the options for childcare? What’s it going to cost me? What are the benefits and the not so great stuff?
1. SAHM/D: You or your significant other can take a temporary leave from the working outside of the home world. This is a fabulous option for many people, particularly those who like the idea of being at home full time. It gives your child the best hands-on care and you know exactly what is going on with your child. You can take care of him or her when they are ill, and spend quality time with them every day. The disadvantage? Obviously, the cash flow. Say you make $50,000 a year. That’s $3000 dollars a month that you will not have. Another thing? Some people get totally stir crazy at home! This is always a careful consideration. A solution? You can find a stay at home business, or you can convince your boss to give you some stay-at-home type of work. Some people can pull this off while balancing schedules with their significant other, or hiring a nanny part time. It’s all about what you think is right for you!
2. Care from the Family: If your parents, or the parents of your SO, live in town, they can take care of your lovely little one. Well this is a nice option. Supposedly you trust these people with your child, and your little one gets quality time with people you love! It actually doesn’t have a ton of drawbacks — unless you and your family have some conflicting child-rearing philosophy, or if they are folks you don’t want in your home. (For example, your mom might totally disagree with cloth diapering, or she might want to let your child “cry it out” instead of comforting him. Check with your family about their philosophy before opting for this!) The only thing? Not everyone lives around their family or has a family member willing to provide free childcare. It works great for lots of people! And it saves money … unless your folks are demanding a paycheck for spending time with junior.
3. Nanny/babysitter/au pair: Of course, this is someone you hire: from the neighborhood, by word of mouth, or from a website like www.care.com. This is a good option for those who want family-like care but don’t have the opportunity to stay at home full time or get mom to take care of the kiddo full time. You can take your time interviewing candidates during your maternity leave, and you can even have a sitter or nanny come while you are at home for the first time or two. The disadvantage is that nannies have lives too! You might have a nanny who needs to quit, take a long vacation, or go home for summer break. You also might have cancellations due to illness or family emergency. The price is also a setback for some. Nannies will run from $10-$20/hour, so they can be more expensive than the typical daycare. (And for a live-in au pair, you’re looking towards spending around $1500-$2000 a month!)
3. Nanny sharing: This is when you pair up with someone (probably someone who lives close by) and share a nanny or babysitter. One of the advantages to this is the cost splitting. Normally, a nanny won’t charge more (or not much more) for taking care of more than one child. This is often a great way to cut costs and still have the personal attention and care that a nanny can give.
4. Home daycare: This is daycare run out a person’s home. It has the advantage of potentially being close by (we have one right down the road from us — walking distance), having more hands on care, and having flexible payment schedules (like pay-by-the-week). The disadvantage is that they are not AS regulated as the big name daycares, even if they are licensed. They also may not have a large staff, be open year round, or have all the hours that you want. Remember, Mrs. So and So probably needs to take Christmas week off, or she might need to go out of town for a wedding, funeral, or just on vacation. That leaves you needing to come up with something at the last minute! The other thing I’ve found is that a lot of home daycares will not let your child attend part time, which is not terribly cool if working part time is your intention. It’s 40 hours a week or nothing! The price range I’ve found in the area is around $200-$300/week or $800-$1200/month.
5. Daycare: The big name daycares like KinderCare are the big business variety of care. There’s not as much hands-on attention, but everyone is licensed, trained in CPR and first aid, and folks generally have a ton of experience. Of course, there are different levels of licensed daycare centers — some boast more hands on attention, some have options for part time (but usually not for infants), and some are focused on education. Like home daycare, these can be hit or miss options. Of course, it’s always best to tour and interview all of your options, and big name daycare is no exception. Prices will run a little bit higher than home daycare — in Northern Virginia and DC, you can pay from $900/month to $1500/month (and probably more!).
What have we decided to do?
I have to say the decision is an emotional one for me. I respect all types of parents — those who stay at home, those who work from home, those who work full time or work part time. For me, I would love to stay at home as long as possible. It appeals to me to stay at home as long as possible, give my child all the attention that I can give, and start homeschooling when the time comes. However, my husband and I live in Northern Virginia — and we made an offer on a house here about five days before I got pregnant. That means that we now have a heftier mortgage than we would in other parts of the country, and we simply both have to work in some capacity.
How do I reconcile our financial well being with my own philosophy? It’s a delicate process, one that isn’t entirely figured out yet. It has to be a combo of the above options, as far as we can see. I’ll stay home for three months, taking maternity leave and vacation. I’ll return to work, but from home, and then half time at home and half time at work. At that time, little Sam will be taken care of by me, Eric, a sitter or nanny, and my mother, who will travel up from Richmond every one to two weeks for a day of grandson time. After he’s a year old, we may transition him to a full time home or major name daycare, depending on what we find. When he’s two, he may be able to start at a Montessori preschool.
Yikes. All of it seems scary and overwhelming. At 36 weeks pregnant, I can’t imagine teaching full time again, but I can’t imagine not working. At the end of the day, we’ll have to find a system that works best for us, and it may shift through many stages. I think the most important question for any parent is: what is going to make you most satisfied on all fronts — financial, emotional, educational? It’s hard not to listen to others, but the most important person to listen to is yourself.
A lot of things have been brewing to inspire this post. And there’s a lot to go into it, so hopefully I don’t get too off topic. I’ll sum up my inspirations here and use them as a framework for what I have to say:
- The prevalence of the words “husband” and “father” in pregnancy literature, medical settings, and birth classes (and indeed, the insistence that there be a birth partner to begin with).
- The expectation of the pregnant woman to be submissive and frightened when it comes to choices concerning her pregnancy and birth and the history that led to this.
Since I’m not writing a paper, I’m not sure if these points are in any sort of logical order, but I’m pretty sure they all make sense together, so I’m going to roll with it.
I’ll start off by saying that I’m pretty up in arms about this kind of thing, and always have been. I come from an interesting family (which is where my views start); I was raised by a traditional, conservative, Southern man and woman who both have very feminist ideals. It seems like a contradiction, but for my parents, it’s just who they are. I was always told that I could do anything that a man could do (save, perhaps, playing sports — none of us were ever good at that), and that I should never listen to anyone who tried to control me or tell me what I could NOT do. So I’m very much that way, and I sought out a life partner who believes in my ideals and does not look down on me because of my biological sex. (The whole other story is that my parents taught me to be so independent that they are upset with some of the choices I’ve made, but I am quick to point out that it’s all their fault.) As a woman, I’ve always been proud of who I am, where I come from, and what I can become. (Thanks Mom and Dad.)
In my years on this earth, I have experienced sexism in its subtle forms, particularly in the medical business (it is a business; let it be said). That’s part of the reason I started this uppity, opinionated blog — it’s always been a goal of mine to educate and inform women about their rights, particularly the rights they have to their OWN bodies. Let me rewind a bit — in 2003, I was diagnosed with vulvodynia, a pain condition that affects 20% of women in their lifetime, but for which the cause is not known, the cure has not been properly explored, and is drastically under-reported (mainly due to embarrassment and reluctance to talk about sexual issues). This is what kinda really got me going on the feminist view of the medical industry — I don’t trust what a lot of doctors tell me, because a lot of doctors (and I’ve seen a lot) are driven by the desire for a paycheck rather than the desire to connect with a patient and provide a logical cure. Don’t get me wrong — I’ve had a LOT of amazing doctors, including the dermatologist and gynecologist who treated my condition, and the OB I have now who knows more about vulvodynia and natural birth than I thought possible. (And yeah, I’m like, REALLY not embarrassed talking about this stuff — I wrote an article about it for a magazine and read it aloud to a room full of people. It was hardcore.)
I can’t say it’s surprised me to make the observations that I have during my pregnant journey. It has somewhat disheartened me, as a pregnant woman in 2010, but no, it’s not surprising. My conclusion is that the medical industry is necessarily patriarchal — for a long time, women were excluded from being doctors, and that sentiment has kind of stuck over time. Now, there are lots of women doctors, but they came to work for a patriarchal business, and so hey, they follow the rules that were already set up for them (now, that’s a big generalization, and certainly it doesn’t always hold true).
Because medicine has been established as a patriarchy, it is also heteronormative and managed as both a sexist and heteronormative institution. (I’m starting with this point since it’s the most readily visible — on medical and insurance forms, in books, on brochures and from the voices of many.)
Big claims, right? Well I’m making them. It even spills over into the world of natural childbirth, like the Bradley Method:
Husband-coached? What if I don’t have a husband? What if, say, I married a lovely lady in California (hooray for no more Prop 8!) and decided to artificially inseminate? What if I were a single mom, with no husband, but an amazing pregnant belly and an awesome best friend, mom, or doula as my birth partner? What if I simply decided that I didn’t want to get married, and I brought my boyfriend to Bradley class instead of my husband?
What about the forms for the hospital that say “husband/father”? What do I do then? Do I make a stink of it and write down my situation and my choices?
Probably not. And I can tell you, I’d probably get pissed and not take a Bradley class because of its title. (I took it anyway, but kind of wish I’d taken Birthworks.)
What happened to me that made me all kinds of pissed is about insurance. My doctor’s office(s) by default assume that I have my husband’s insurance. At my current doctor, I was even pushed on the issue when I filled out the form. “Does your husband have insurance? Are you sure you are the primary insured?” Why yes, he has my insurance. And why yes, I am indeed the primary insured. Why wouldn’t I be? I work, he works, and my insurance is way better.
This seems like a simple thing, but it is indicative of so much more. If we as women are viewed as the lesser party — the one not able to pay insurance for instance, or the one not even able to birth without a male partner — then we can take on some of the feeling of BEING lesser and relying on others’ opinions. (In my estimate, heteronormativity always ties back to a basic sexist point of view.)
So many pregnant women I’ve spoken with have come off as afraid or upset about their pregnancy and their birth. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is because we are told about so many things we CANNOT do. We are told over and over that women make sacrifices, that labor is the curse of Eve, that it’s so painful, and we should give our trust over to the doctors because we cannot control our own bodies or our own life-giving process. I was even told by a lab tech, taking my blood for my gestational diabetes test, that he “would never want to be a woman because of all that they go through,” and that “women should be viewed as sacred for all the sacrifices they make.” Call me crazy, but that point of view puts me DOWN. I can’t imagine being luckier than to be a woman. I can’t imagine being luckier than to bring my son into this world.
A lot of women buy into this point of view because it’s what they know, it’s what they’re told, and there’s a lot of comfort in being told what to do, especially during a time that is unusual and emotional.
This whole system was set up because of a shift away from midwives performing births, a distrust of the birth process, and an emphasis on actively managing a mother’s pregnancy. This really started in America during the early 1900s, with the introduction of lovely pain relief techniques like twilight sleep. Jennifer Block, author of Pushed, talks a lot about how birth has been “pathologized” in this country as a result of moving away from midwives and home births (the woman’s realm) to hospitals (the man’s realm). Indeed, birth has become a scary illness in the minds of many, rather than a very natural process by which all men and women come into this world. My doula and Bradley instructor have both pointed out that many OBs become OBs because they “enjoy doing surgery.” And because of the fear of malpractice, many doctors (and even midwives who deliver at hospitals or centers), encourage women to receive interventions such as episiotomies or c-sections in order to avoid lawsuits. Why wouldn’t this create a culture of frightened women? We’re even encouraged to labor and give birth lying down — an inherently submissive position, and one that doesn’t work nearly as well as standing, squatting, or staying on all fours. (I won’t get into more of the history here, since I’ve already cut down this post significantly and I could keep going for hours, but I would suggest the documentary The Business of Being Born, Ricki Lake’s Your Best Birth and Jennifer Block’s Pushed if you’re interested.)
I think Monty Python sums it up rather well in their hospital sketch.
Laboring Mother: “What do I do?”
Doctor: “Nothing my dear! You’re not qualified!”
But aren’t we as women qualified? I say nothing to negate the expertise of doctors, especially those who necessarily save the lives of women and children. But really, shouldn’t we as women be given the autonomy to guide our own pregnancy and birth our babies — instead of having them delivered? Why do we submit when our bodies are doing the work, making the magic, and pushing out the babies? Why can’t doctors be more like guides and less like micro-managers?
I can’t totally answer, but I know that shutting off, not doing research, and not being aware are the things that put us down even further, when we need to lift ourselves up.
Eric and I attended an orientation at the hospital yesterday — the hospital being Virginia Hospital Center. This is where I’ve been going to see my doc since about week 14, when I decided to switch from the local baby factory, Fairfax Inova (the hospital that delivers 11,000 babies a year compared to Virginia Hospital Center’s 3000). My doctor told me early on that Fairfax Inova is a great place to go if you have a high risk pregnancy — they’ve got all the gear to take care of your little one — but that at Virginia Hospital Center, you’ll get more personalized care.
This seems to be the case. As for a more natural birth experience? The word on the street is that you’ll get a better chance at a natural birth at VHC, but the c-section rates are actually pretty comparable — 37% of women end up with c-sections at Fairfax Inova, as apposed to 34% at VHC. It’s probably most dependent on the doctor or midwife you select, and we feel we selected one of the best of the bunch. We’ll see what happens of course … but on to the tour …
The tour started at the Women and Infant Health Center. We saw a bunch of other pregnant ladies waiting around when we came in, and eventually an RN from the education center came around to show us the place. The Women and Infant Health Center was clean, decorated nicely, and had a good feel to it. The nurse led us up to the labor and delivery area, and then showed us the mom and baby rooms where you stay after you deliver.
Overall assessment? It’s nothing to write home about in the long run, but it’s a clean, nice hospital with a guaranteed private room and heck — good doctors. Other pros include a complimentary gourmet breakfast (nice), snacks provided, and a flexibility on when you can leave (24 or 48 hours after a natural birth). The nurse also let her tour group know that VHC supports birth plans (though they might not always go as planned, she pointedly pointed out), and she also mentioned that immediate placement of the baby on the mother is just quite fine. (It was interesting to me that she referred to epidurals, APGAR tests, shots and vaccines, and the immediate bath as the “traditional” method of birth, whereas placing the baby on the mother’s chest and laboring unmedicated is “non-traditional.” Traditional since when? Traditional since … 1920? What about before that? Anyway …)
Cons include that it’s a sterilized, non-homey environment. You have nurses making you get on the monitor and stay still every forty minutes (sounds just like what a laboring woman needs), and they’re more than a bit suspicious of you wearing your own clothes, or bringing in your own food and drink. There’s always someone checking on you, and when it comes time to deliver, they hoist you into the bed, put your feet into stirrup like things and have a doctor or resident catch your little baby. Admittedly, it’s not ideal, but it’s pretty much what all hospitals are like.
And honestly? If you tell me not to do something, I’m going to do it. It’s the reason why I doodle during meetings, speak up when I’m not supposed to, leave products in random places in the grocery store, and it’s part of the reason why I’m planning a natural birth and why I’m intending to cloth diaper (everyone keeps telling me I’m crazy, so the more assured I become). So believe me — I’m rolling with bringing my own clothes to wear and totally eating and drinking when the nurses can’t see me. I can’t do those things because I’m in a pre-operative state? Oh yeah? I’ve been in a pre-operative state right now and have been all my life. A meteor could fall on me right now, and someone would have to operate on me, clothes on and with partially digested carrots and hummus inside! BS on your rules.
At least I can’t get risked out and sent to a doctor I’ve never seen. I’m glad of that. But next time? If all goes well, we’re gearing up the hose for the giant inflatable pool, and getting an awesome home birth midwife. Color me disenchanted with the away-from-home birth options — we’re going in for the big crazy next time, no matter what people tell us.
What’s a birth plan?
A birth plan is what it sounds like — a plan for how your childbirth should go in the hospital. Mostly natural birthing mamas tend to write birth plans. Why’s that? Medicated birth is the norm in America, and so natural birth (while it is the most natural, physiological process a woman’s body is meant to go through) is something that requires a plan.
Why should I have a plan?
Well, why on earth would it require a plan? I mean, really? A woman is a customer at a hospital, and the hospital is providing a service. Why can’t they listen to the mother and her significant other in the moment? Well, because of the nature of the service that the hospital provides, doctors and nurses are generally given the ownership of all decisions and as such, frequently perform routine procedures without a mother’s knowledge — or even her consent (i.e. performing an episotomy or using forceps to deliver the baby). A woman can also be pressured to use pain medications such as an epidural or stadol, or to have a c-section even when labor is progressing at a normal (if slow) pace. Given these pressures of a “routine” hospital birth, it becomes essential for a woman who wants something outside of the norm to take control of her autonomy and make a detailed plan that outlines her wishes.
How do I craft a plan?
1. First, thou shalt do research.
I’ve just finished working on the second draft of my birth plan. I’m currently 33 weeks pregnant, and I’ve done a shitload of research, reading, thinking, asking questions, talking to experts, and listening to my birth instructor. I would contend that you shouldn’t go into a hospital wanting a natural birth without strong, self-propelled research and a strong outline of your wishes. I can’t even fathom setting foot into a hospital without knowing how labor progresses, what interventions are necessary and when, and what happens after delivery. I would strongly suggest a good birth class (we’ll discuss those on A Savvy Mom soon!) so that you can get a grip on these things, supplemented by reading at least one book on natural birth. (Your Best Birth would be my top recommendation for an easy, informative read — and it talks about birth plans at the end!)
2. Second, thou shalt look at sample birth plans.
When it comes to birth plans, plagiarize freely (something I get really pissed at my students for doing). But trust me, natural mamas everywhere post their plans online, and most of them are nice friendly ladies who want to share. I found a pretty awesome birth plan on Diaper Swappers (I’ve turned into a forum dork), and I also took bits from my doula’s birth instruction book. If you don’t look at any birth plans, you won’t know what to include!
3. Third, thou shalt keep it totally simple.
Nurses and docs don’t want to read a tome when they are trying to get you prepped for labor. It must be no more than one page typed! Use bullets, make sure it’s written as simply as possible, and don’t over-word or over-include! My doula suggests printing several copies on florescent paper so that the medical folks can easily find it in your chart.
For your perusing pleasure, here’s a solid draft of my birth plan, liberally plagiarized from multiple sources, and inspired by my birth instructor, doula, husband, self, books, other ladies … (Some of it might be Greek to the non-birthing ladies, but if it is, frickin’ do some research if you get knocked up and make sure you know what all of it means! The knowledgeable woman is the empowered one!)
We are so excited to have our child at Virginia Hospital Center. Our goal is to have a natural, intervention-free birth, and we respectfully submit the following requests as our preferred options for labor and delivery. We ask for your consideration of these requests as long as the health of both mother and baby permit. We trust that you will inform us in the event that any problems arise so that we may make a responsible decision together.
For labor and delivery, we request …
- Limited fetal monitoring after initial 20 minutes
- No IV (Heplock if necessary)
- Dimmed lights, as much privacy as possible, and a closed door
- Alternative methods of induction besides Pitocin
- Internal exams limited to one upon admission and one at transition
- Choice of positions for labor—shower, walking, squatting, etc.
- Ability to drink fluids and eat light foods during labor
- Gentle, guided pushing with warm compresses on the perineum
- Limited interventions (no episiotomy, vacuum or forceps unless necessary)
- Positive encouragement instead of pain medication
After delivery, we request that you …
- Place the baby on the mother’s chest immediately after birth
- Do APGAR tests there and place warming blanket over both of us if needed
- Delay cutting the umbilical cord until after it has stopped pulsing and turns white
- Delay routine procedures until two hours after birth to allow time for bonding
For baby care, we request that …
- The baby room in with the mother during her stay in the hospital
- The mother breastfeed immediately
- Our male child not be circumcised
- No Hepatitis B vaccine or eye medications be given
- The baby not be bathed until we request it
- The baby not be given any supplements, formula, pacifiers or glucose
Anyone reading the above could totally agree with me or think I’m totally crazy! That’s why it’s up to you to complete your own plan — be prepared, know what you want, and get it down on paper.
Welcome to the Savvy Mom Space
I’m a liberal feminist that believes that liberal, feminist ideals should gel with embracing your gender and motherhood (if that’s what you feel like doing). I support all kinds of moms and dads and parents. Oh and, although I totally love that natural vibe and not harming the environment, I supplement my organic milk and fresh fruits and veggies with the occasional Twix, the frequent Oreo, and the daily Coke Zero. I’m opinionated, not easily offended, and a loudmouth in person and on the internet. I am what I am. Welcome.