When it comes to having a baby there are often things that you don’t even think of having an opinion about. That’s where it comes in handy to write up a birth plan ahead of time so that everything you want to happen, has the best chance of happening and you have less to think about right in the moment of labor and delivery.
What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is basically a way for you to let your care providers know what your wishes are for your labor, delivery and post delivery experience. It’s a way to tell them what your ideal experience is, your back up options, and what you want to avoid. Although I didn’t have one with our first birth since it was a scheduled induction, I have become much more opinionated since then and want to make sure that my preferences are heard by those that will be caring for us in case I am either unable to, or forget to voice myself in the moment.
What should you include in your birth plan?
Laboring: With our first, I was basically put into a hospital bed in the standard semi-reclined position. Although I was there for hours before even getting an epidural, they did not want me to get out of bed, walk around or anything else. It actually made for a more painful experience I believe since our bodies aren’t really made to deliver in that position, but it has instead been adopted as a means of convenience for the doctor or midwife delivering. That being said, be sure to note how you would like to labor.
Pain: This is where you’ll want to spell out what pain relief methods you prefer to use as well as which ones you want to avoid. If you’re aiming for a natural birth, specify which pain relieving methods you wouldn’t want to use, such as an epidural. You can also list which order you would like to try things such as using a birthing ball, tub, shower, or massage before leaping to the epidural or other medications. If, on the other hand, you know you want the epidural, mention that as well.
After Delivery: A few things that you may not even think about include how long to wait before clamping the cord, do you want your partner to cut it, and how do you want to deliver the placenta. I know, at this point you’ve got you’re precious little bundle, but these can be important details whether you realize it or not.
Feeding: Are you planning to breastfeed or bottle feed? Do you want to try breastfeeding uninterrupted and several times over the course of the first few hours or do you know that you would like immediate assistance from a lactation consultant. This is one thing that is really important to me because I didn’t get any support in this area when we had Natalia and it led to me having to pump exclusively for 7 months until I stopped producing. Anyone who has exclusively pumped can tell you what kind of special hell that is, but it was important to give my daughter the best start that I could with breast milk so I stuck it out.
Also, take a moment to think about things you know that you do not want. These things might include not giving your baby bottles or formula (if you’re choosing to breastfeed), whether to give your baby a pacifier, how you feel about vaccinations, eye drops, and circumcision issues for boys.
Keep it short: If someone handed you a 3 page, single spaced document how likely are you to really read it? Probably a lot less likely than if that same paper was one or two pages with short phrases and to the point? My birth plan is 2 pages and is bulleted. 😉
Be Flexible: There’s no way to guarantee that your birth will go 100% as you have always hoped and dreamed for. Sometimes things happen and in the event that you can’t stick to your birth plan word for word, remember that the ultimate goal is a healthy mother and a healthy baby. Just keeping relaxed can ultimately help your birth run smoother in most cases.
Here’s the birth plan I wrote up, in case you want a peek at what’s important to us and how simple you can keep it.
Our Tentative Birth Plan
For Pain Relief I’d like to use:
I’m not interested in:
Immediately after delivery I would like:
In the event of a C-Section I would like:
Please do not give baby: