What Is A Birth Plan?
A birth plan is a document that lets your care givers and medical team know your wishes and preferences during different stages of birthing your baby. A birth plan lets you communicate your wishes and preferences to your partner, your caregivers, and your doctor. A birth plan works as a guide to help your doctor best support you during labor and delivery.
You need to consider a lot of things before you make a birth plan. This is a great opportunity to learn about the various practices, procedures, pain relief methods, and other options that are available during childbirth.
What To Include In Your Birth Plan?
You can make a birth plan that is very specific or very open. For example, if you want to try to have a natural or unmedicated childbirth, you can write that in the birth plan. But, it is important to stay flexible because some of the things you want may not be possible in certain situations. It is always better to keep your birth plan open and treat it as your birth preferences, rather than a plan. Sometimes, you may have limited choices because your health insurance coverage may not cover every wish in your birth plan. The hospital or the birthing center may not be able to provide you with some of the options you may want. You may change your mind about certain things when you are actually in labor. Although your doctor wants to proceed according to your wishes, he/she may feel that certain steps are needed for your health or your baby’s health, even though they are not what you wanted.
Your doctor can guide you in medical decisions about the birth. He/she can also discuss and let you know about risks and benefits of some of the options you want for your birth. Once you’ve completed your birth plan, share it with your doctor well before your delivery date. You may have to fill out forms or releases ahead of time for certain options.
How to Write a Birth Plan?
Your doctor or the hospital where you will deliver normally have a form that you can fill out to create a birth plan. You can also use sample birth plans and templates that are available in books and websites. You can make your birth plan as simple or detailed as you like.
You may want to think about the following things to write your birth plan:
- What kind of atmosphere you want in birthing room for labor and delivery? Do you want music? Lights? Pillows? Photos? Make a list of things you want to bring with you.
- Who do you want to be with you during labor and delivery?
- Will you include your other children, parents, in-laws, and grandparents?
- Is there anyone you want kept out of the room?
- Do you want your partner or labor coach to be with you the entire time? What do you want your partner or labor coach to do for you?
Labor and Delivery
- What type of birth you want?
- Do you want to stand up, lie down, use a shower, or walk around during labor?
- What birthing position you prefer?
- Would you like to have a mirror so you can see your baby being delivered?
- Do you want fetal monitoring?
- Do you want treatments to quicken the labor time?
- Do you want an episiotomy?
- Do you want to video-record the birth of your baby? If so, check with the birthing center or hospital ahead of time. Some hospitals have rules about video-recording births.
- Do you have strong feelings about assisted delivery (the use of forceps or vacuum extraction)?
- If you need to have a cesarean delivery (C-section), do you want your labor coach or partner to be with you during the surgery?
Dealing With Pain During Labor
- Do you want to try to give birth without pain medicine, or do you want medicine for pain relief? Would you like to have an epidural for pain relief during labor?
- Would you like to be able to labor in a tub or shower, if allowed, at the hospital?
- How can your labor coach or partner help soothe your pain?
Right After Your Baby’s Birth
- Who do you want to cut the umbilical cord? Do you want to save or donate the cord blood?
- Do you want to hold your baby as soon as it is born, or do you want the baby washed and clothed first?
- Do you have wishes about how to bond with your baby after it is born?
- Do you intend to breastfeed? If so, do you want your baby to stay in your room after delivery?
- Would you like to avoid pacifiers or supplements, unless ordered by your baby’s doctor?
- Do you want anyone from the hospital to help you with breastfeeding? Would you like someone to talk to you about bottle feeding and other baby care issues?
- Do you want a male baby to be circumcised (extra foreskin removed from penis)?