Save Yourself Panic and Uncertainty Later, and Create Your Ideal Birth Plan Now

With all the decisions you have to make with a baby on the way, a birth plan will help you sort it all out. If your birth is coming up pretty soon, have you talked to your doctor or midwife about your preferences for birth? Let’s go through some things you might want to think about.

Early Decisions

First things first. Who is going to be your care provider? Are you going with a midwife or a doctor? Where are you going to give birth? Are you planning on birthing in the hospital, or are you planning an unassisted or a home childbirth? One of the things you’ll probably consider when you’re deciding is the cost of childbirth, and what you’ll have to pay.

Are you going to hire a doula? A doula is a trained professional who can help you during your pregnancy and labor. She can be a great sense of support for you. A doula will provide you with information to help you make decisions and will support you physically and emotionally during labor.

One other thing to think about is taking Childbirth Education Classes. Classes can really help you to prepare for what’s to come. There are several different childbirth methods you can take classes for.

What is a Birth Plan?

A birth plan is a guide you make for how you’d like your birth to go. It lists your preferences and the things you’d like to avoid.

You may have a general picture of what your birth will be like. There will probably be at least a few things you didn’t exactly plan for, so it helps to make some decisions early. Have a plan B. Then you won’t be left scratching your head and making decisions under pressure. Creating a birth plan helps you do this.

One downside of a birth plan is that it can give you false expectations. You may be disappointed if everything doesn’t go just the way you wanted it to. Of course, even the most detailed plan won’t guarantee everything will be perfect, but it can make things go a lot smoother.

A Birth Plan Isn't Just a List of Demands

You need to take part in your birth. Know that you are the one who makes the final decisions. But also realize that childbirth can be unpredictable sometimes. Be flexible. It’s great to have a plan, but yours shouldn’t just seem like a list of demands.

The idea is to know what you want and let your care team know, but you don’t want to come off as aggressive. Having a well thought out plan will let others know that you are taking an active part in your care, and that you’ve researched your options. Discussing this with your care provider and working as a team with him or her will be a win-win for both of you.

What’s in a Birth Plan?

Here is a list of some things you might have in your birth plan. I also added a few notes on some things to give you a better idea of your choices.

You might not feel like some of these things apply to you. They may not, and that’s OK. Pick the things that matter to you.

You should also consider the possibility of a difficult childbirth, and what choices you will need to make then. It will be easier to think about those things now than when you’re in the middle of it.

• Who would you like to be with you at your birth?

• What do you prefer to wear during labor and birth?

• How do you feel about labor induction and/or augmentation?

• Would you like to eat and drink during labor, or would you like an IV?

• Do you want your baby’s heart monitored continuously or intermittently?

• Do you want to be able to walk around during labor?

• What do you want the atmosphere to be like? Do you want music?

• Would you like different aids available for your labor and birth, like a birthing ball, squat bar, birthing stool, etc?

• Would you prefer to choose your own birthing position?

• Do you want birth pictures or videos?

• What pain relief methods would you like to consider?

• How do you feel about vaginal exams during labor?

• Are you OK with an episiotomy or do you want to avoid one?

• Who’s going to cut the cord?

• Do you want a particular person present for baby’s first bath?

• Do you want your baby placed directly on your skin when he’s first born?

• Do you have specific preferences for the delivery of the placenta?

• Do you want your baby to stay in the room with you or be taken to the nursery?

• Are you planning on breast or bottle feeding, or both? Do you want the hospital staff to give your baby a bottle or a pacifier? If you don’t want your baby given a bottle or pacifier, you should clearly let the nurses know, or it’s likely that one will be given to your baby.

• If you are breastfeeding, do you want to nurse baby as soon as possible after birth? Sometimes it can take a while to do all the newborn “stuff” that's done, so it might be a while for your baby’s first nursing, unless you request that you want to nurse as soon as possible.

• If you have a baby boy, are you going to have him circumcised?

Here are some things to consider if you have a C-Section

• What type of anesthesia would you prefer?

• Who would you like in the room? Keep in mind, this may depend on who the hospital allows.

• Would you like to hold your baby right away?

• Would you like the option of breastfeeding right away?

• Would you like the screen lowered so you can see the birth?

Putting Your Birth Plan Together

There are a couple of ways you can make your birth plan. It can be a simple checklist of your wishes, or it can be in a letter form.

Your birth plan should be short and simple. Just include the things that are most important to you. Share your birth plan with everyone who will be there, and have them all sign it. Make a copy for your doctor or midwife, the hospital or birth center, and anyone else who will be at your birth. Keep the original with you.

A couple last tips to keep in mind: Keep your language positive. Don’t make your plan a big list of “I don’t want...” Also let people know what they can do to support you best.

And again, be flexible. Know what means the most to you, and try to relax. Don’t stress out if every detail isn’t exactly how you want it to be. Your baby’s birth will be beautiful!

Sample Birth Plan Letter

Bulleted Birth Plan Sample

One More Sample

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