Congratulations, you're having a baby! By now, the thought of labor has crossed your mind (possibly terrified you) and you want to prepare, that's where a birth plan comes into play. But what is a birth plan exactly and how do you create one? A birth plan is a document that notifies your medical team know your labor & delivery preferences in reference to pain management during and after labor, postpartum care, and newborn procedures. It serves as a guide for your entire labor & delivery experience.
You may be wondering how you can create your own birth plan. There are some things to consider before penning your plan, such as:
Where you intend to give birth? A hospital? Birthing center? At home?
Find out your birthing locations procedures and practices. Hospital rules are not law, you have rights. It is probably best to steer clear of a birthing location whose rules conflict with what you'd like to include in your birthing plan.
What pain management options are available? Do they have alternatives to the epidural.
How many people are allowed in the delivery room?
What equipment is available? (Birthing ball, squat bar, tub or shower?)
Now that you've decided on those things, time to get writing. Remember to keep your plan simple and concise, it doesn't have to pages long in order to be thorough. Here are some key things to include:
Your introduction: if you are delivering at a hospital or birthing center, chances are you've never met the doctor on-call or any of the nursing staff. So get the formalities out of the way.
Who will be supporting you through you labor? Your partner? Your doula? Relative? Best friend? Introduce your support person(s), make sure to list everyone you'd like in the room.
Set the mood: describe your ideal birthing environment. Be sure to pack any personal items needed to achieve the perfect space. Also detail the type of support you'd like. Do you want massages? Or hands off? You decide.
Pain relief: Are you going the natural route? Would you like an epidural? Are you against medical interference such as c-section, forceps, vacuum, or episiotomy?
The actual birth: Would you like to see what's happening? (be sure to pack a handheld mirror) Who do you want to cut the cord? When do you want to cut the cord? (you can request cord clamping and delay the cutting of the umbilical cord).
Be sure to include your preferences for an alternative birth. Complications may arise and the doctors may have to medical intervene, plan for these circumstances as well.
Once you've covered all the bases, be sure to review your birth plan with either your doula, midwife, or doctor before labor. Be sure to highlight any key points for the medical team, labor can be a slow process and sometimes it happens in the blink of an eye. You want to make sure your medical team can access the key points of your birth plan in a hurry if need be. If you still don't know where to start, you can purchase my birth plan here or schedule a consultation with us.