Contributed by Dr. Kathryn Wadland of Northern Light Mercy Hospital

These days we can plan almost anything, which is why the unpredictability of labor and childbirth can be so daunting for soon-to-be new parents. Creating a birth plan is a great way to ease anxiety, explore options, communicate your birth wishes, and discuss details of the birth process with your obstetrician or midwife.
When reviewing women’s birth plans, often everything they are hoping for is a standard part of care at The Birthplace at Northern Light Mercy Hospital. Things like minimizing people coming and going from the rooms, dim lighting, playing music, and laboring in the tub are all commonplace at Mercy.

If possible, movement is key
It is encouraged that women in labor change positions, walk in the halls, use a birthing ball, and spend time in the shower or tub. This activity not only promotes the progression of labor, but also helps with pain management. Monitoring of the baby can be done intermittently or using telemetry, which allows the mother to have full mobility since there are no wires to tether her to bed.

Pain management—it’s on everyone’s mind
A discussion of pain management is important to have at a prenatal visit or early in labor. Non-medical options, such as position changes, massage, guided meditation or breathing exercises, and water therapy, can be very helpful. Medical options include an injection of pain medication or an epidural, both of which are safe and can be very effective in easing pain.

A supportive birthing environment
At Mercy, we’re dedicated to providing every patient with individualized care to enhance their experience. Our nursing staff, physicians, and nurse midwives are committed to providing family-centered deliveries that nurture mind, body, and spirit. From one-on-one nursing care during labor and delivery, to ensuring all soon-to-be mothers have their own private rooms for the entire birthing experience from labor to recovery, we are here for our patients every step of the way.
We encourage women to have friends and family members present if that is a part of their birth plan. Doulas are also welcomed as additional support if desired. Comfort items, such as a pillow or blanket from home, comfortable clothes, and favorite snacks and drinks, can be brought to the hospital to ease your transition into a medical setting.
Bonding with baby and breast feeding
Another important focus at The Birthplace is early skin-to-skin contact with your new baby. Placing the baby onto the mother’s chest after birth promotes early infant-maternal bonding, early initiation of breast feeding, and the regulation of the baby’s temperature and blood sugar. Another common request on birth plans is for delayed umbilical cord clamping. After the baby is placed on the mother’s chest, the umbilical cord is left intact for at least one minute and often longer, which can increase the baby’s iron stores and has been shown to improve developmental outcomes.
Finally, many women express a strong desire to breast feed, which is encouraged and supported at The Birthplace. Breast feeding benefits the health of both baby and mom. Our lactation consultants are dedicated to helping moms be successful with nursing.

We’re here to help
In addition to discussing your birth plans with your obstetrician or midwife, it is also helpful to enroll in child birth education classes. Mercy offers an extensive program of childbirth education classes and support services. Led by certified childbirth educators, many of whom are registered nurses in The Birthplace, our comprehensive classes cover all aspects of labor and birth and can play an important part in helping expectant parents to feel more prepared for the beautiful experience ahead.
We invite you to tour The Birthplace and bring all your questions with you. We are here to help provide guidance and support from prenatal care all the way through the birthing process to aftercare.

Dr. Kathryn Wadland is an OB/GYN provider at Northern Light Mercy Women’s Health, formerly named All About Women, at Mercy Hospital.