Creating a Birth Plan
We all know that everything isn’t going to go perfectly according to plan during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Anything can happen on the big day, which is why it is so important to be prepared for anything.
Having a clear plan for the birth allows you to go over a lot of decisions that will have to be made on delivery day. Knowing exactly what you want, ahead of time, is guaranteed to make the process easier for you and your medical team. They will have everything printed in front of them so that your wishes are clear and in writing. It will also ensure you have researched all the available options and procedures that may pop up during delivery, so that you are confident in what you do and do not want.
So what things need to go on the birth plan? The most common things on the birth plan include how you want to manage pain while in labor. This is especially important if you plan on having an un-medicated birth. You may want to have other tools available for pain management such as a bathtub, birthing ball, stool, etc. You will want to check your hospital’s policy on these items or see if they have them available. If you do want to use an epidural, you will have the chance to discuss with your doctor ahead of time. Your birth plan can be changed at any time if you decide in the moment that you do or do not want an epidural, so do not feel bound to the plan!
Complications During Labor
Complications are something no one wants to think about. However, being prepared for complications that commonly arise during labor will help you prepare. Writing down what you want to do in the case of complications will ensure you don’t have to make any quick decisions without giving them the thought you deserve.
You should also include your wishes for intervention within your birth plan. This means if labor is not progressing normally, medical personnel may ask how you wish to proceed. Medical staff may insist on augmenting the labor, or breaking your amniotic sac to progress the labor. Determine what you wish to do in the case of something going wrong so that you are confident in your decision should the occasion arise.
Your birth plan should also include specifics on what to do in the case that you need a C-section. Some women prefer to view the c- section through a clear, plastic drape, while others prefer to have the drape lowered so that the baby can be placed immediately on the mother’s chest.
Typically, the baby will be wrapped in a warm blanket and placed on the mother’s chest. Some mothers prefer skin-to-skin contact with baby directly after delivery, while others may want the baby washed and dried as a first priority. Making this decision ahead of time for your birth plan makes it easier on you and the medical staff because everyone will know the immediate next steps you prefer after a whirlwind delivery. You will also want to specify whom you want to cut the umbilical cord following delivery.
Unless the baby requires immediate medical attention, most procedures and tests can be done in the room with you and your partner. You can state in the birth plan that you prefer to be present during these procedures.
Another consideration to make for your birth plan is whether you want to breastfeed or use formula. If you plan on breastfeeding, include it in your birth plan so that the hospital can set you up with a lactation consultant before leaving the hospital. Consider if you want the baby to use a pacifier, if you want to stay with baby through the night, and write down any other concerns or decisions you have made regarding your time at the hospital.
A birth plan is so important because it allows you to write down exactly what you want for your baby’s first day in the world. It is important to be flexible with the plan and understand that your medical team has you and your baby’s best interests at heart. Discuss your plan with your obstetrician and partner prior to delivery day, so that everyone is on the same page.