When it comes to giving birth, things rarely go as planned. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an idea of how you want your experience to be. Writing out your birth plan and sharing it with your doctors gives you the highest possible chance for things to go how you want them to. Even if you cant control the details, knowing what you want to happen before the big day is here allows you to focus on what's most important -- bringing your new baby into the world.
What should I include in my birth plan?
Even though its tempting to include all the things in your birth plan, your best bet is to keep it simple and only include the things most important to you. Things like room atmosphere, labor preferences, and pain management are all great things to include!
What type of situation makes you feel the most calm and relaxed? Do you want the lights dimmed? Do you want the room completely silent or would you rather have music playing? Are you ok with the people entering your room speaking at a regular volume or would you prefer everyone whispers? Do you plan to wear your own clothes or the provided hospital gown?
This is a big one when it comes to your preferences. How do you handle pain? Is your goal to deliver completely pain med free? Or do you plan to get an epidural from the beginning? Contingency plans are always a good idea as well. What if you originally planned pain med free, but you change your mind along the way?
These are your preferences for what will probably be the longest part of your labor. Vaginal checks - How frequently or non-frequently would you like them? Do you want to be monitored the whole time? Or would you prefer to be able to walk around freely? Do you want to use a birthing ball? Do you want to be able to take a bath or shower or labor in a birthing tub? If your labor stalls, do you want any kind of intervention such as pitocin?
Would you prefer to lay in the bed to deliver or would you rather be on all fours or in a squatting position? If you're planning on a vaginal birth, would you prefer not to have an episiotomy unless it’s medically necessary? Do you want a mirror to see your baby as he or she comes out? Do you want to pull the baby out yourself? Would you like your partner to cut the umbilical cord? And how soon after birth would you like this to happen? Do you want your baby placed on your abdomen right after delivery?
If you need a C-section, who would you like with you in the delivery room? If it’s not an emergency, are you interested in a gentle c-section and does the hospital offer those?
Feeding and Baby Care
After baby is born, you will need to think about feeding and care. For example, will you be breastfeeding or formula feeding? Do you want baby to get the Heb B, Vitamin K, and erythromycin immediately, after some skin to skin time, or not at all? Do you want baby to be allowed a pacifier? If you are having a boy, do you want him to be circumcised at the hospital, at a later date, or not at all?
Who should I share my birth plan with?
So obviously, you should share you birth plan with your doctor or midwife. Also to be included would be any one else who you plan to have in the room with you. It's also a good idea to bring a few copies with you to the hospital or birth center when you go into labor, as another doctor may wind up delivering your baby if your regular doctor isn't available.