Are you ready for baby? Better make a birth plan!
When you’re expecting a new addition to the family, there’s a lot to do. With all the other preparations that need to be made, consider adding a birth plan to the list: a simple outline of your preferences during labor, delivery, and postpartum.
Do you plan on receiving an epidural? Do you want an episiotomy? Who will be present during the birth?
These are all important questions to go over with your physician or midwife before the big day, and they can all be answered with your birth plan.
Keep reading to learn how to formulate a birth plan to guide your birth experience.
Do Your Research
It helps to know what to expect, whether it’s part of your plan or not. Listen to your friends’ birth stories. Read books and magazines. Take a childbirth class such as Lamaze, Bradley method, Alexander technique, or Mongan method.
Talk with your caretaker about his or her preferred ways of doing things.
After learning all you can, you’ll be able to decide for yourself how you’d like your labor and delivery to proceed.
Make a Plan
When it comes to creating a birth plan, there are plenty of free templates online, or if you’d like, you can make one up yourself. Keep it simple and no longer than one page so that whoever is going to help you through the process can easily know your wishes. Having several copies for all involved may be helpful. That way you’re not having to explain to everyone how you’d like things done while you’re trying to breath through a contraction.
Here are a few questions to consider as you make your birth plan.
During labor, where will you give birth: the hospital, birthing center, or home?
Who will deliver the baby: an OB/GYN, midwife, or family doctor?
How do you want labor to proceed: free movement, hot shower, birthing ball?
Who will be present during labor: a doula, partner, family, or friends?
Do you want fetal monitoring, and if so: internal or external, continuous or at intervals?
Labor intervention/induction: are you OK with the doctor stripping or rupturing your membranes?
Do you care if drugs are used to induce labor or do you prefer natural methods to speed labor?
Pain Relief/Anesthesia: would you like an epidural to eliminate pain, narcotics to lessen pain, or do you prefer natural pain relief methods?
Cesarean Section: If a C-section is needed, it’s helpful to know what to expect.
Do you wish to be awake? Do you want a mirror? Do you want your doula present along with your partner? In what position do you hope to deliver your child: lying down, squatting, in a birthing pool? Who will be your coach: your partner, a family member, or a friend?
Post-delivery: Who will cut the cord? Where will the baby be placed? When will the baby be cleaned? Do you plan on keeping the placenta? Do you hope for the baby to room with you or stay in the nursery?
Breastfeeding: Do you plan to breastfeed and when? Do you prefer your baby to breastfeed exclusively? Do you plan on giving your baby a pacifier? Do you welcome the help of a lactation consultant?
Circumcision: If you have a boy, do you want him to be circumcised? Who will perform the circumcision and when will it be performed?
Plan for the Unexpected
As you formulate your birth plan, keep in mind one important aspect: births often don’t go as expected. Know that it’s fine to change your mind during the birth for the way you want things done. Maybe your birth plan specifies natural pain relief, but when those contractions get tough you change your mind. Be prepared to be flexible in case things don’t go according to plan. Emergencies and other events out of your control may happen. All that matters in the end is a safe and healthy baby.