I had decided that when I went into labor and the hospital I didn't want to have an epidural right away. I was always so surprised to hear women say that they immediately requested the epidural, regardless of the level of pain they were in.
When I moved back to Utah I was 6 months pregnant and was reconnecting with a previous doctor. I discussed my options with him and he suggested I look into taking a Hypnobirthing class. He said a lot of his patients liked the class. It was encouraging coming from my doctor, since I wouldn't need to broach the conversation of not using medications right away during labor.
I found that Intermountain Medical offered a lot of classes to choose from, and we were able to get into a Hypnobirthing class. The class was great. Joe came along and we learned all about Hypnobirthing and the importance of knowing what your body is going through during labor. It was a great time for Joe and I to bond even more over the pregnancy, and for him to get very involved.
We met once a week and focused on the book Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method. We watched videos of actual Hypnobirthing experiences, which were pretty amazing. We also learned all about how our bodies respond to labor and the affects of using Pitocin and epidurals.
I definitely recommend taking a birthing class to any newly pregnant mom. I think the classes offer a lot of important information, even if you do just want an epidural right away. It's best to know what your body is going through, and how best you can deal with the struggles that can possibly come during labor. Even though our birth did not happen like I had planned, I'm happy I had all the information from our class.
Which brings me to my next point. Having a birth plan is a fantastic idea. If you don't have any idea of how you want your labor to go, the hospital will take care of it for you, and you might not like it. By creating a birth plan you are letting the hospital and your doctor know you are aware of your rights as a mother and patient and you have an opinion.
We spent some time in class discussing the importance of having a birth plan, and the book provides a lot of great ideas to consider including in your individual plan. Here is a sample birth plan I wrote (click the image to make it larger):
I shared my plan with my doctor at one of our regular visits, to give him an opportunity to make any suggestions if he wasn't comfortable with anything. Luckily he and the hospital he works with have been moving to a more open delivery process, so the standard was now to allow skin-to-skin time immediately following the birth as a norm, instead of a request, etc. I was comforted knowing he was on my same page.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to put much of my plan into action because I ended up needing to be induced. After everything I've experienced with this baby I would still recommend to anyone, even if they aren't a first time parent, to attend a birthing class of any kind and to write up a birth plan. I felt much more empowered because I had taken the time to get educated on labor and delivery, and also those precious first hours with the new baby.
Here are a few resources to read more about birth plans and Hypnobirthing.
10 Decisions for Parents of Newborns and Part 2
Baby Center Birth Plan Worksheet
Birth Plan suggestions
Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method (link to buy the book)