Most expectant mothers have a vision of what they would like for their upcoming birth. Creating a written birth plan can make it easier to share your goals and ideals with your health care provider and the nurses responsible for your care while you are in the hospital.
Why Create a Birth Plan
Labor creates a very emotional response for a woman. Many expectant mothers feel vulnerable when they go into labor and they often look to the people around them for guidance. It is easy to be swayed by the opinions of doctors, nurses, and spouses during labor, even if they recommend things that were not part of your ideal birth.
Creating a birth plan, and sharing it with your spouse and health care providers makes them aware of what your wishes are for your birth and makes it more likely that your plan will be followed.
Many mothers-to-be do not stop to think about what they want from their birth experience. Putting a birth plan in writing is a great exercise to help you come to an understanding about what you want your birth experience to be like.
What to Include in a Birth Plan
A birth plan is unique to each expectant mother and should be tailored to her individual needs, but there is some basic information that should be included in most birth plans:
- Where you want to give birth (hospital, home, birth center)
- Who you would like present at your birth
- At what point you would like to go to the hospital or birth center?
- Who will care for your other children?
- What form of natural pain relief would you like to try?
- Would you prefer a medicated or unmedicated birth?
- If you would like pain medication, what types are you open to and what point would you like them administered?
- Would you prefer to tear or have an episiotomy?
- Would you like a mirror in place so you can watch the birth?
- Would you like guidance while you are pushing?
- Would your partner like to cut the baby’s cord?
- Would you like to save your baby’s cord blood?
- Would you like to delay cutting your baby’s cord?
- Would you like your partner to stay with you or go with the baby if complications arise?
- Would you like to breastfeed immediately following the birth?
- Would you like your baby to stay with you in your hospital room?
Share Your Birth Plan with Your Health Care Provider
It is important to share your birth plan with your health care provider ahead of time, not only so they can be aware of what your wishes are for your birth experience, but also so they can give their input on anything that they feel they cannot be supportive of. Bring your birth plan with you to a regular doctor’s visit several months before your due date. Share your feelings on your ideal birth experience with your health care provider and listen to any suggestions they may have.
Be Prepared to Be Flexible
In a perfect world, your birth experience would go exactly the way you have planned it out on paper. In the real world, complications arise, emotions get the better of us, and things don’t always go according to plan. Try to keep your focus and stick to the things that are really important to you but be prepared to change the plan if your health or the health of your baby need some adjustments made. In the end, it is great to have a picture perfect birth, but the main goal is a healthy mother and baby.