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A birth plan is a document that lets your health care providers know your preferences for the birth of your baby. Planning for your labor and delivery can feel overwhelming with so many decisions to be made. Don’t worry. Creating a stress-free birth plan is possible!
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You will want your birth plan to be short and concise.
You will want to make sure your partner or support team is aware of your wishes. Your health care providers are also more likely to read a concise list. Here are some points to consider and discuss to develop a stress-free birth plan:
7 Simple Steps to a Stress-Free Birth Plan:
1. Think about your ideal birth scenario.
It is likely that you have an “Ideal” birth scenario in mind. Let your thoughts really flow for this. This is your ideal. The perfect birth. What would it be like for you?
What do you want the birth atmosphere to be like? Some things to think about:
- Who do you want in the delivery room with you? Do you plan to hire a doula?
- Do you want the room quiet, lights dimmed, soft music or aromatherapy?
- How do you feel about pictures or videos in the room?
- Do you want children or siblings to be present in the room?
- Do you want Students or Residents to be present for your labor/delivery?
What would you like your ideal labor to be like? Some things to consider:
- Do you want to be able to walk around freely? If you opt for continuous fetal monitoring, you may have to stay in bed.
- Do you want to use a birthing ball or stool? You may want to bring your own.
- Would you like to labor in a tub or shower? Not all facilities have these available so you’ll want to check ahead of time.
- What type of pain management do you want? Discuss your options for pain relief with your doctor.
- Do you want to wear your own delivery gown?
- Do you want a mirror to see your baby’s birth?
- Talk to your Doctor about IV’s, food during labor, etc.
What would you like your ideal delivery and moments after delivery to be like?
There are many considerations, these are just a few. Some things to think about:
- Do you want to do delayed cord clamping after birth?
- Would you like you to use a certain birth position?
- Do you want your partner to cut the umbilical cord?
- Do want to breastfeed right after delivery? (If you plan to breastfeed.)
These questions are not all-inclusive, there are so many possible birth scenarios and the purpose is to just get you thinking about what your “ideal” scenario would be.
2. Keep your plan short and concise.*
Now that you have crafted your “ideal” birth scenario, its time to throw a little health care system “cold water” reality on it. You’ll want to do your best to keep it to one page and keep it concise.
Your labor and delivery nurse and OB/GYN will be far more likely to be able to help you have the delivery you want if you keep your plan short and concise.
Try to keep your plan on one page.
These are our suggestions for things to include on a simple one-page birth plan:
- Your name:
- Due date:
- Partner’s name:
- What do you plan for pain management during labor?
- Who do you want to be present during labor?
- Briefly describe how you’d like your birthing environment: Do you want the lights dimmed? Music playing? A bathtub, if available?
- Do you want your partner to cut the umbilical cord?
- Do you want to hold the baby immediately?
- Will you be breastfeeding?
- Do you want your baby to stay in your room or go to the nursery? (If the birthing facility has a nursery.)
- If you have a boy, do you want him to be circumcised?
*Creating a birth plan is a very personal matter. Knowing what to expect can contribute tremendously to a more positive birth experience. During my 20 years in obstetrics, I have had the opportunity to be involved in creating and implementing many birth plans.
Unfortunately, years ago, childbirth classes were the extent of childbirth preparation. Expectant mothers, though informed of the various options surrounding childbirth (ie. pain control, breastfeeding etc.), were not involved in their care the way they are today. Thankfully, this is no longer the case.
The level of education available and the ease of access to educational material has allowed patients to be far more active in their health care. My suggestion is simply to keep your birth plan concise and flexible!
If your labor does not go as planned, remember that your healthcare providers always want what is best for you and your newborn.
3. Make it relevant to the facility you are giving birth at.
Knowing where you will be delivering and what services they offer is very important. Take a tour before your delivery if the facility offers one.
You can read about what you should ask on your tour here: Maternity Hospital Tour: 20 Important Questions You Should Ask
4. Consider who will be on your support team.
This is a really important question. One you’ll want to give some thought too. It may be your partner, your mother, your best friend. It may be ALL of them.
You’ll just want to be sure to get everyone on the same page as to your wishes and preferences before you go into labor.
5. Consider how decisions related to birth will be made.
How will decisions related to your labor and delivery be made? Your support team needs a leader. Maybe it is your partner or spouse. Maybe your partner or spouse isn’t so great in that role if things get complicated or “busy” and that can happen quickly during a delivery.
So think it through. Maybe you’d like your mom or a friend to be in that role.
Labor and delivery can move quickly and be unpredictable. It can be painful. It can be scary when it doesn’t go as planned. You’ll want to have someone on your team who can handle the unpredictable.
6. Consider using a Doula to help you craft your plan.
A doula is a labor support person. They provide emotional support and physical assistance during labor. There are also postpartum doulas that assist the new family after delivery and in the early weeks and months after arriving home with their new baby.
A doula can be very helpful in assisting you with crafting a stress-free birth plan, even if you don’t plan have with you during your labor or delivery.
There are so many options to consider and decisions to be made. It can feel overwhelming. This is where a doula can be very helpful! A doula can help you plan out your birth during prenatal visits so you will be prepared on the big day.
Just having someone to walk you through the process of creating the birth plan will help you feel more prepared and empowered to handle your upcoming labor and delivery.
If you’d like more information about using the services of a Doula, visit: DONA International- What Is a Doula
7. Be open to going with the flow. Things do not always go according to plan.
Remember, what we talked about above, your ideal birth scenario? It is exactly that…the ideal. The very stress-free best birth plan is the one that is open to going with the flow. Sometimes it does not go according to the way we plan.
Keep your plan short, keep it simple, keep it very flexible.
Our combined years as an obstetrician and an RN (who has also done the whole pregnancy thing a time or two), have consistently shown us that those individuals who have a birth plan but are open to change have a more positive birth experience.
Other pregnancy articles you might find helpful:
- 10 Tips To Fight Fatigue Fatigue During Pregnancy
- 9 Steps To Better Sleep During Pregnancy
- The 5 Best Pregnancy Pillows That will Make Your Sleep Amazing