As you near the end of your pregnancy, a common term you may be hearing is a birth plan. And you may be asking yourself, “what the heck is that? Do I need one of those?”
If you have never heard of this term, it may sound a bit daunting. Not to worry, a birth plan is a simple thing.
Essentially, a birth plan is a piece of paper that outlines your game plan for your labor and delivery. Now, maybe you feel like you don’t need your plan written down. Maybe you have it all planned out in your head, and that’s good enough.
Let me advise you, especially if you are a first time mom, to take a few minutes to fill out one anyway. Why? Because the reality is that once things really get under way during your delivery, it can be difficult to make sure everyone knows how you want things done.
Things can get a little crazy pretty quickly in the delivery room. The last thing you want is for something to be forgotten–especially if it relates to what you want done (or not done) to your brand new baby. The easiest way to make sure that all the nurses, doctors, and hospital staff are on the same page with you is to create a clear and concise birth plan.
Do note: a birth plan is just that–a plan. Do be ready to make changes as necessary. Sometimes things go unexpectedly, and you may find yourself changing your mind about some things you previously thought were nonnegotiable.
How to Create the Perfect Birth Plan
What Is Most Important to You?
When you begin to formulate your delivery plan, start by sitting down and making a list of things that are important to you. Are there things that you definitely want or are positive you don’t want? For example, do you definitely want an epidural or other pain medicine, or are you dead set on having an all natural, med free birth?
Make a list of all these things and keep it next to you while you write down your plan. Don’t be afraid to add to it as you go, or make several drafts before you settle on a final copy of your delivery plan.
Writing the Birth Plan & What to Include
While you can write drafts of your plan out with paper and pen, be sure to type the final copy on a computer and print copies out. Having a typed copy ensures that no one struggles to read any of your plan, which could lead to confusion or ignorance of your wishes. If you do decide to fill one out by hand, make sure that you write clearly and legibly.
At the top of your birth plan, begin by writing out your full name, date of birth, your doctor, and due date. If you are scheduled to be induced or have a C-section, include that date as well.
Next, make a section for medical conditions that the hospital staff should know about. Include whether you plan to deliver vaginally or by C-section (remember that this can change when if comes down to it). Make note of any conditions such as gestational diabetes, group B strep, or any other conditions that could affect your delivery.
If you want anyone else in the room with you, now is a good time to write down their names and their relation to you. This is also a good place to note if you specifically want or do not want those people to film your delivery or take pictures.
Remember that this is your birth experience–if you do not want someone there, make sure the nurses know and they will not let them in. Don’t let family or friends pressure you into letting them in if you are not comfortable with it.
Any Other Specifications
At this point of your birth plan, go ahead and note any other things you would specifically like to do or not do. You might include that you want to use a birthing ball or be in a birthing pool or tub (assuming the place you deliver has this option available). Or, maybe you want to emphasize that you don’t want an episiotomy or forceps used unless absolutely necessary.
This is also where you’ll want to note any medications you want, such as an epidural. Go ahead an lay out how you want your delivery to go. But of course, remember that this is the ideal version of your delivery. Remember that things may change once you get there and be willing to adjust as needed (at least within reason).
Instructions for Care of Baby
Finally, if you have any specific care instructions for the baby, include them in your birth plan as well. You might note that you want to hold him/her as soon as possible. Or maybe you would prefer to have the nurses dry off the baby first.
If for some reason you don’t want your baby to get the standard Hepatitis B, Vitamin K shot, or eye ointment, make sure to write that down as well. Do be aware of any state laws that may be involved in any of these decisions. For example, in Texas (which is where I gave birth) it is the state law that newborns be given the eye ointment within the first two hours of birth. If a mother refuses it, CPS is called and gets involved.
Just do your research ahead of time and know what is mandatory in your state and what isn’t before making your decisions. And if you don’t want something given to your baby but it is mandated, go ahead and research whether you might qualify for any exemptions from it. If so, putting information regarding that in your birth plan is a good idea to help things go smoothly.
Other notes you might want to include in this part of your birth plan are your plans for breastfeeding or formula feeding, and whether you’d like to have a lactation consultant assist you with breastfeeding.
Grab A Free Printable Birth Plan
Feel like you still are unsure of what to put on your birth plan? Grab this free printable birth plan to fill out and take with you to the hospital! Make sure to print multiple copies so that everyone who needs one can have one.
Have you ever made a birth plan before? What types of things did you include? Let me know in the comments below!