Advice for Your Birth Plan

Issue No. 4: Black Maternal Health
words - betty fermin

Racial bias, assumptions, and structural barriers to health care can impact the way you receive care during your pregnancy and delivery, so it’s necessary to do your research and know about all aspects of your maternal health. Here are some things providers might not tell you:


Deciding to give birth at home or at a birthing center may be more comfortable for some parents and can increase their control over the experience. However, hospitals are preferred by others and are recommended for high risk pregnancies that may require additional medical professionals and technology in case of emergency. Talk to your health care provider about what is right for you and your pregnancy.


When it comes to your birth team, be vocal and make sure they adjust to your needs. Fostering a connection between the doctors, medical staff, and anyone who will be in the room is key.


When you and your doctor agree to something that is different from typical birth plans, such as not wanting a routine IV provided, ask them to write that in your chart and sign your birth plan. Therefore, if you are in labor when your provider isn't available and you're asking for something outside routine hospital policy, there is written confirmation that this was agreed on.


Don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion, especially if you have a high-risk pregnancy or a complex medical situation.


While in labor you will get signals from your body; pay attention to them. Ask for what you need, whether that is to rest for a bit, or to get a massage, or to take a bath. Just remember to remain confident in your abilities and be vocal about what you need.


Abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing can help you to relax and ensure that you are breathing effectively. Practice this deep, slow breathing during your pregnancy, so that you are familiar with how it feels.


It can be scary to have providers telling you to do something, but if there is no clear safety reason for the request, it is always your right to say simply and clearly, "No.”


Remember that no one can force you to do or accept anything that you do not want. If a position doesn’t feel right after a few contractions, change position. If you want to move into another position because you’re uncomfortable, the nurses can work around you to monitor your baby’s heart rate.


Bleeding during the birth process can happen. Doctors don’t always warn the parent that they may lose a lot of blood in the delivery, which can be scary for the parent and loved ones in the room.