In preparing for the birth of our first child, I was introduced to the concept of a Birth Plan. In the Birth Plan, I was able to write out all of my desires. While in labor it's hard to think clearly and verbalize everything that you want to happen, so it's important to think through what you want and don't want to happen during your birthing experience.
What is a Birth Plan?
A Birth Plan is a one-page statement of your wishes written to the midwives and doctors who will care for you while in labor. It tells them about the type of labor and birth experience you would like to have, what you want to happen, and what you would like to avoid.
Remember to stay flexible in your desires. While my desire to not have an IV was valid, there were times that warranted an IV. I didn't like it, but I trusted that the midwife and nurses had my best interest in mind.
This is when it's important to think about your Birthing Support Staff. Who will be in the room with you? Your significant other? Family? Will you hire a doula? These are all things to add to your Birth Plan.
Once I had everything written down, I took it to my next OB appointment and we talked through everything. I had on idea what to expect, so it was a great chance to ask questions and get their input.
Questions to Ask
When creating your Birth Plan, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I want to have my birth photographed or recorded? Hospitals have certain policies in place, so if this is something you want, make sure to talk to your doctor.
- Do I want to have the freedom to walk around freely during labor?
- Do I want constant fetal monitoring or intermittent?
- Do I want to let my bag of waters break naturally or have the hospital staff break it?
- Do I want an epidural?
- Do I want a natural delivery?
- What natural pain relief methods will I use?
- Who will be in the delivery room?
- Will I hire a doula?
- Would I like to be coached on when to push or let my body push when it feels ready?
- Would I like to change positions during labor and delivery? Which positions?
- Would I like to touch the baby's head as it crowns?
- Would I like a mirror to watch the birth?
- Right after delivery, do I want immediate skin-to-skin?
- What about delayed cord clamping?
- Who do I want to cut the cord?
- Will I donate the cord blood? Store the cord blood in a private bank?
- Do you want to be present for the newborn evaluations?
- If the baby has to be taken away for medical purposes, do you want your significant other to be able to go with the baby?
- Do you plan on breastfeeding? Using formula?
- Would you like to be consulted before a bottle or pacifier is given?
- Will the baby stay in your room or the nursery?
- If you have a boy, will they be circumcised?
All the questions can be overwhelming, but it's important to think through your labor and delivery desires beforehand. Talk it over with your partner, your doctor, and hold loosely to your plans. After all, these are wishes and desires, not a script that will be followed.
I've included our birth plan we had with our first born below. While this may be too much information since we don't know each other, when writing out my Birth Plan, I found it helpful to read through several different plans to see what people thought was important to add.
Birth Plan Sample
Dear Midwife and the staff of my Hospital
This birth plan is intended to express the preference and desires we have for the birth of our baby. It is not intended to be a script. We fully realize that situations
may arise such that our plan cannot and should not be followed. However, we hope that barring any extenuating circumstances, you will be able to keep us informed and aware of
our options. Thank you.
- I would like to be free to walk around during labor.
- I wish to be able to move around and change position at will throughout labor.
- I would like to be able to have fluids by mouth throughout the first stage of labor.
- I do not want an IV unless I become dehydrated.
- I do not wish to have continuous fetal monitoring unless it is required by the condition of the baby.
- I do not want an internal monitor unless the baby has shown some sign of distress.
- I do not wish to have the amniotic membrane ruptured artificially unless signs of fetal distress require internal monitoring.
- If labor is not progressing, I would like to have the amniotic membrane ruptured before other methods are used to augment labor.
- I would prefer to be allowed to try changing position and other natural methods (walking, nipple stimulation) before pitocin is administered.
I’d like labor augmentation performed with prostaglandin gel if needed.
- I realize that many pain medications exist I'll ask for them if I need them.
- Unless absolutely necessary, I would like to avoid a Cesarean.
- If my primary care provider determines that a Cesarean delivery is indicated, I would like to obtain a second opinion from another physician if time allows.
- I would like (coach) present at all times if the baby requires a Cesarean delivery.
Please perform a low transverse incision in the uterus.
I would prefer a double-layer stitch for the repair of the uterus.
- I would prefer not to have an episiotomy unless absolutely required for the baby's safety.
- I would appreciate guidance in when to push and when to stop pushing so the perineum can stretch.
- If possible, I would like to use perineal massage to help avoid the need for an episiotomy.
- I would like a local anesthetic to repair a tear or an episiotomy.
- I would like to be allowed to choose the position in which I give birth, including squatting.
- I would like (partner) and/or nurses to support me and my legs as necessary during the pushing stage.
- I would like a mirror available so I can see the baby's head when it crowns.
- I would like to have the baby placed on my stomach/chest immediately after delivery.
IMMEDIATELY AFTER DELIVERY
- I would like to have (coach) cut the cord.
- I would prefer that the umbilical cord stop pulsating before it is cut.
- I would like to have the baby evaluated and bathed in my presence.
- If the baby must be taken from me to receive medical treatment, (coach) or some other person I designate will accompany the baby at all times.
- I would like to donate the umbilical cord blood if possible.
- I would like to see the placenta after it is delivered.
- I would like the baby with me during the day but in the nursery at night, but brought to me for breastfeeding. (Note: be sure to check the breastfeeding preferences below.)
- I plan to breastfeed the baby and would like to begin nursing very shortly after birth.
- Unless medically necessary, I do not wish to have any bottles given to the baby (including glucose water or plain water).
- I would like more information about breastfeeding.
- I would like to meet with a Lactation Consultant.
- I would like the baby to be circumcised before we check out of the hospital.
- I would like to take still photographs during labor and the birth.
- My support people are (support people) and I would like them to be present during labor and/or delivery.
Want to easily create you own? I love this Birth Plan creator from Earth Mama Angel Baby.
Prepare for the Unknown
What other questions would you add? When I went over our plan with our midwives, they said it sounded great as long as we realized not everything goes as planned. Well, neither does life, so that's okay. The most important thing is being prepared. Here are 10 things I wish I knew about childbirth before having a baby.