Avera Medical Minute: Empowering moms through individualized birth plans

Published: May. 29, 2023 at 10:25 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - What to expect when you’re expecting — it’s not just a best-selling book title, but a big question for many moms to address when crafting their birth plan and delivery goals.

In tonight’s Avera Medical Minute, we show you how doctors at Avera are engaging expecting moms and families by keeping them informed and in charge of their care.

”I’m excited to find out who this baby is and just really experience that new baby feeling because there’s literally nothing like it!” said expecting mother April Mullin.

The Mullin family is ready to welcome their newest member. April was scheduled for an induction, but that doesn’t mean this wasn’t part of her birth plan.

“I’ve always been in the driver’s seat with things, and Dr. Schiltz also made that very clear, and that it has always been what’s best for me and what’s best for baby,” said Mullin.

“I think it is a misconception that you’re not in control or that we don’t want to take your wishes into account. We certainly value them. We want that to be the priority as much as you do,” said Dr. Catherine Schiltz, an obstetrician and gynecologist with Avera Health.

Part of April’s birth plan is a VBAC or vaginal birth after cesarean. It is something she accomplished with her second pregnancy after her oldest was delivered via C-section.

“Dr. Schiltz has been the one that’s been super confident about it. And I remember more so last time because I was a little bit more nervous to have a C-section last time. She was super confident and like, ‘No, you’re good. You’re a great candidate. You’re going to be great!’” said Mullin.

April is just one of the thousands of moms who will come to the labor and delivery floor this year — each one bringing their own specific birth plan that was carefully crafted by the parents and can be supplemented with the help of birth classes and educators like Karrie Garry.

“What I love most about the education is that we can tell moms what our process is, the standards of care that we have at Avera — things like delayed cord clamping, skin-to-skin, family-centered C-section, family-centered postpartum care that really makes sure that we’re connecting moms and babies the whole time because we know that’s best for babies,” said Garry, who is also a labor and delivery nurse at Avera McKennan.

Birth education classes go a long way in helping to calm nerves, as educators are constantly training and staying up to date on pregnancy trends to best serve moms and prepare them for delivery.

“A lot of times, we’ll see on birth plans saying, ‘I want freedom of movement. I want to be mobile.’ And in reality, we’ve been doing that for years,” said Garry.

“If patients can be up and mobile, we want them to be. It feels better as a person who’s given birth and had babies and labored before. It feels better to be on your feet or upright than on your back, if possible. You can labor on a birthing ball. You can labor in a bathtub. If that feels good to you, you can be walking the halls as long as it’s safe and baby looks good on the monitor,” said Dr. Schiltz.

“Even when we get an epidural, people think, ‘Well, now I’m tied to the bed, and I can’t move.’ We actually can do a lot of really cool, dynamic positioning in bed with our peanut ball, with the birthing ball and people think that we’re going to just put them on the monitor, and then they’re tied in bed for the rest of our labor, and that’s the last thing we want,” said Garry.

Patients come with an idea of what feels right to them and what their pregnancy will look like. For April, trust in her team was an important aspect, but she also urges moms to come in with an open mind and be ready to lead the conversation.

“Your voice matters also. Whoever your support person is, just have them understand what your wishes and desires are, too,” said Mullin.

By giving moms the knowledge and extending trust, the labor delivery team strives to provide moms with a personalized birth plan that meets their needs, as well as babies.

“It’s a story. It’s a memory for them. It’s part of them building a family. And so we want to take that into consideration as much as possible,” said Dr. Schiltz.

“We aren’t going to force them into anything that they don’t want to do. We all, again, want to have a happy, healthy delivery,” said Garry.

Now that she’s checked in and ready to go, what are April’s thoughts on who baby number three will be?

“Because we have two girls at home, I think that it’s another girl,” said Mullin.

Mother’s intuition was right once again.

For more information on creating a birth plan and other birthing resources, visit avera.org/medicalminute.