If you’re (finally) nearing the end of your pregnancy, your provider may have brought up the topic of a birth plan! You’ve gotten the nursery ready, picked out baby names, installed the car seat…. But maybe haven’t given a lot of thought to how your birth may play out!
Thinking about your labor and delivery experience isn’t setting you up for unrealistic expectations-- everyone wants a smooth delivery! However, sometimes it’s easier to consider what choices you may be presented with in labor BEFORE you’re actually laboring.. Because (from experience) that’s kind of the last time you want to be making any major decisions.
A birth plan just fills that gap. It allows you to consider all aspects of birth and communicates that to your provider because it should be a team approach. Especially one where you can participate in!
This allows you to offer up your best-case scenario for labor and delivery, but also consider the “what if’s” ahead of time. We know that birth can be unpredictable so we just want to cover our bases instead of having to waste precious time.
Birth plans have tons of pros-- it allows you to feel like an active participant in your birth experience, heads off unrealistic expectations, minimizes disappointment, and allows you to know ahead of time what your provider/hospital/birthing center even has available!
It’s a great way to communicate without actually having to communicate a whole lot when you’re in labor. Which could be difficult, to say the least when you’re in the moment.
Birth plans allow for change and flexibility! We know what can happen to the best laid plans.
It can be helpful to divide your plan into parts:
- Before birth
- During labor
- Immediately after delivery
- Newborn care
I suggest including the following in your birth plan:
- Full Name
- Partner’s Name
- Today’s Date
- Due Date OR Induction Date
- Doctor’s Name
- Hospital Name
Also helpful to include:
- Have group B strep
- Am Rh incompatible with baby
- Have gestational diabetes
My delivery is currently planned as:
Then you can move on to the fun things!
Things to consider before birth:
- Consider the atmosphere you’d like to birth in (dim lighting, a diffuser, music).
- Who you would like with in while in labor (partner, parent/family, doula, photographer, friend, other children)
- As few interruptions as possible/as few vaginal exams as possible
- Okay with students or not
- If you can eat/drink during labor
- Laboring out of bed
- Fetal monitoring: continuous, intermittent, internal, external, doppler only
- Laboring in the tub/shower/bathroom
- Using a birthing ball, peanut ball, etc
- Comfort measures you’d like (counter pressure, TENS unit, heating pad)
Things to consider for during labor:
- Type of birth your planning (vaginal or c-section)
- Epidural or pain medication
- Alternatives to pain medication (like nitrous oxide)
- Breaking water or leaving it intact
- IV or catheter use
- Labor augmentation: only if baby is in distress, natural methods (nipple stimulation), membrane stripping, foley induction, pitocin, prostaglandin gel, pitocin
- Episiotomy or natural tearing
- Vacuum extraction or forceps
Things to consider for delivery + immediately after:
- Who is catching the baby + announcing the sex of the baby if applicable
- Delayed cord clamping or cord blood banking
- Immediate skin to skin
- Postponing weighing baby
- Any requests around the placenta
- Any special requests re: antibiotic eye ointment + vaccines
- If you’re circumcising or not
- Baby’s first bath
- Suctioning baby
- Breastfeeding immediately or offering formula
- Consider medications (pain, stool softeners)
- If you’ll be utilizing the hospital nursery if it’s available
- Abdominal support and protecting your c-section incision/incision care if applicable
- Perineal care/support (even if you didn’t tear)
Bottom line: While birth plans are not necessary, it can be helpful in communicating your wants/needs for your birthing experience as well as allow you to consider all the things that are available to you! Make sure that this is something you bring up with your provider beforehand as well.
Author Bio: Ashley Olson is a certified pediatric sleep consultant, owner of Heaven Sent Sleep, and passionate about helping new parents, experienced parents, desperate and sleep-deprived parents form healthy sleep habits for their children.
She has over 3 years of experience in working with families and has completed over 150 hours of coursework plus continuing education related to infant and toddler sleep. The focus of her work is on fostering a routine that grows your bond with your child while improving their sleep habits. She specializes in custom sleep plans and one on one support in changing sleep practices!