Birth Plan Decisions You Should Be Thinking About
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Once you find out you’re pregnant, there’s no time to waste when it comes to making important decisions. Whether you’re doing this solo or with a partner, you won’t want to wait ‘til the spur of the moment to consider the following questions:
HOW SHOULD I ANNOUNCE MY PREGNANCY? AND WHEN...
I know it’s difficult not to spill the tea, and if you’re like me, you’ll try to keep a secret and fail. I was about 9 weeks along and hadn’t told anyone yet, but my change in eating habits and extreme tiredness caused my closest coworkers to guess!
It's recommended to wait until your second trimester to announce your pregnancy.The main reason women are told to wait is because the heartbreak of miscarriage is devastating enough without the world knowing about it and 80% of miscarriages occur in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the chance of most healthy women facing a miscarriage in the first trimester is 15-20%. After 13 weeks, the risk of miscarriage drops to less than 3%.
Another hard part is deciding "how" you tell people the big news! And there's no right answer... Here are some adorable ways to let everyone know you're pregnant.
SHOULD I FIND OUT THE GENDER OF MY BABY?
When you get your first ultrasound, you will be asked if you want to know your baby’s gender. Some women want to know immediately, some wait until birth, and some go home with a closed envelope and throw a gender reveal party! What will you do?
SHOULD I HAVE MY SON CIRCUMCISED?
So, you’re having a bouncing baby boy! Have you thought if you will circumcise him? Circumcision is a common surgical procedure, usually performed shortly after birth, where the foreskin on the penis is removed. Here are some things to consider before making this decision if you elect to get your child circumcised:
- Your family’s cultural and religious beliefs
- Decreased risk of UTI, penile cancer, and possible other health risks
- Easier to keep area sanitary
- Painful process with some risks
- Unnecessary surgical procedure
For information about the pros and cons of circumcision, you should speak to your doctor.
WHAT SHOULD I NAME MY KID?
Choosing a name for your child may be harder than it seems. If you’re doing this with a partner, COMPROMISE is your best friend. I wouldn’t wait too long to start thinking about names you both like. Other things to take into account during your brainstorming process include… nicknames, middle names, monograms, and paying homage to other family members.
WHERE SHOULD I GIVE BIRTH?
Do you have a birthing plan? Where do you intend on giving birth? Your options include a birthing center, a hospital, or at home.
At the hospital, most women plan on having a vaginal delivery, but you should prepare yourself for the possibility of a caesarean section (c-section).
If you are planning an at-home birth, it's still advised you hire health care professionals. Do you have a midwife? A doula? You will also need a back-up plan in case there are complications.
Have you considered the idea of a water birth? Water births don't have to take place at home; some hospitals and birthing centers offer this option.
There's a lot to think about!
SHOULD I GET AN EPIDURAL?
An epidural is the anesthetic administered with a needle into your spinal cord during labor to combat the pain. For me, it was a life saver. Not only did it minimize the discomfort of my contractions, but it truly calmed my nerves and anxiety.
So what's the catch? Well, like most medications, there are possible side effects. There are alternative pain meds to the epidural if you are uncomfortable with the idea of being numb from the waist down.
Let's not forget, you can always decline the epidural because you want the experience of going all natural... and more power to you!
SHOULD I TAKE MATERNITY / PATERNITY LEAVE?
Talk to your superior and human resources rep about paid and unpaid leave. See what you are eligible for and then figure out what's in your budget. I advise taking as much time as you are financially able to. You will not get the opportunity again to spend time with your new child—not when they are this little. Read more about why I believe you should take maternity leave here.
SHOULD I SIGN UP FOR ANY COURSES ON LABOR OR BREASTFEEDING?
This is an individual preference. Personally, I felt like the more I learned about labor, the more anxious I was, so I opted out. Some people are the opposite and feel better prepared with the more they know. I will say one thing about breastfeeding... it is way harder than I anticipated and that is something I could have used more help with.
WHO SHOULD I HAVE IN THE DELIVERY ROOM?
Think about who you want to be in your delivery room, and not just for when it comes time to push. Who do you want there throughout the duration of your labor which can last up to 48 hours?
Keep in mind, if you're in a hospital, you will have nurses checking on you frequently to get your blood pressure and to see how much you've dilated. If you are a private person, you should talk to your family about possibly staying in the waiting room, especially if you want to avoid drama.
Consider asking your family to help in other ways, like taking care of your pets at home. As for your partner, where do you want them to stand when it's finally time...
Do you want them to stand by your feet... your head? Do you want them to cut the umbilical cord?
WHEN SHOULD YOU HAVE VISITORS AFTER BIRTH?
There's a lot going on postpartum. You're recovering physically, learning the ropes of parenthood, and trying to establish a routine. Where do visitors fit into this picture without causing you more stress?
Talk to your loved ones. You can never be too clear about this sort of thing. If you want to avoid being overwhelmed, schedule specific dates with your friends or family for when they can come visit.
And when they ask you what you need or what they can help you with... actually TELL THEM.
SHOULD I BREASTFEED OR USE FORMULA?
There's no shame in your game, mama, but you will need to decide prior to labor.
If you choose to use formula, you'll need to buy infant bottles, nursing pads, and of course, formula. Don't stock up on too much formula until you know what brand and type your baby will respond best to.
WHO SHOULD BE GODPARENTS?
Godparents. What does the word mean to you? Are you thinking legal obligations or religious responsibilities? (My husband and I had two very different ideas.)
Regardless of your religion, you will want to consider who you will trust to raise your child in the case of a tragedy.
If you are religious, another question to ask yourself is will you host a ceremony of some kind? For example, will you have a Baptism or Brit Milah?
SHOULD I BUY LIFE INSURANCE?
You and your partner should take out an insurance policy if you don't already have one. Like anything else, there are options, so it's time to shop around. You can never be too careful when it comes to making sure your kids are taken care of.
WHERE SHOULD BABY SLEEP?
Will your precious newborn sleep in a crib in their nursery or will you put a bassinet in your own bedroom? Another option is to attach a sidecar crib to your bed. It's recommended that infants sleep on a flat, firm surface (on their backs), without any blankets, pillows, or objects that could possibly obstruct their ability to breathe.
You could also sleep in the same bed as your child, known as co-sleeping. You should know... co-sleeping is a controversial topic. Although studies claim it promotes longer sleeps for both parents and babies, there are safety concerns such as choking and suffocation.
WHO SHOULD BE MY PEDIATRICIAN?
You will need to have this information prior to giving birth. Our hospital would not discharge me until I could prove I had an appointment with a pediatrician!
Look around, ask around, and find someone you trust (and that takes your insurance).
SHOULD I PUT MY CHILD IN DAYCARE?
I know it may seem early to think about, but some daycare centers have extensive waiting lists!
If you and your partner are eventually returning back to work, you'll need to set something up ahead of time. Do you have in-laws that will babysit? Do you need to enroll in daycare? I think it's safe to assume most parents wants to see their little ones at the safest, cleanliest, friendliest, facility they can find. Go on some tours before it's baby time.
- Samantha Colandrea