Why you should have a birth plan—even if nothing goes to plan
If you’re an expectant mom, you may be wondering how to write a birth plan and if having one is even necessary. Even if this isn’t your first baby, this may be your first time truly considering having a birth plan for labor, delivery, and postpartum care. Keep reading and learn how to confidently write your own birth plan and be prepared to have the birth experience you’ve always dreamed of!
Why do I need a birth plan?
One of the most commonly asked questions by expectant mothers is why they need a birth plan. Before fully diving into how to write one, I believe it’s important to discuss what they are in the first place. A birth plan is just that – a plan for your birth. And it doesn’t stop there. It’s wise to include the desires you have for your labor and postpartum care as well.
Although a birth plan isn’t necessary, it’s certainly a good idea to have one, especially if you have certain things you don’t (or do) want to happen on your baby’s birth day. And this goes for a hospital birth, a birth center birth or even a home birth! Having a plan written down (or typed out) will help you communicate with everyone who will be involved with you and your baby’s big day. Birth plans also help you clearly communicate your needs and wants as well as serves as a form of written documentation just in case things begin to go as unplanned.
When writing your birth plan, keep the following how-tos and tips in mind:
How to Write a Birth Plan
While there are many ways to write your own plan, below are the most commonly discussed topics covered.
Include everyone who will be involved.
Start your birth plan by writing down everyone who will be involved – whether they will be in the room, hands on, or there for support. This section should include you, your spouse/partner, doula, midwife, photographer, doctor(s), and nurse(s). Note any emergency contacts, their phone number, and anyone else questions can be directed to.
Be specific about requests prior to the birth.
There are many things that happen prior to the actual birth and you will probably have particular preferences and requests. Be as specific as possible about things such as:
- Comfort measure you want to take (essential oils, low lights, music, etc.).
- Equipment you’d like to have on hand (exercise ball, squat bar, pulling sheet, water, tub/shower, etc.).
- Movement capabilities (walking, moving around, etc.).
- Any hydration methods (water, flavored water, ice, tea, IV drip, etc.).
Note your labor and delivery desires.
Once labor kicks in, the last thing you want to worry about is trying to delegate what you need from your partner, nurses, the doula, doctor, and anyone else present. In this section of your birth plan, include the following:
- Foods and beverages you’d like to have on hand. (Yes, you can eat!)
- Induction or augmentation options you’d like to have or stay clear of (pitocin, AROM, forceps, vacuum, etc.).
- Any pain medications you want or don’t want.
- Reiterate the comfort measures noted in the previous section.
Clearly map out your birth plans.
Your actual birth plan involves what you require or prefer during the actual delivery. This should include particular positions you want to try/use, who will catch the baby, what to do about tearing, and what to do immediately after delivery (skin to skin contact, take baby to the warmer, cleanup, etc.).
Write down your desired plans for newborn care.
This is one of the most important parts of you birth plan as it will include specific care for once your baby is earthside. Be sure to include the following:
- Umbilical cord preferences (whether it should be cut immediately, delayed, and by whom).
- The administration of Vitamin K (immediately, delayed, or completely withheld).
- Whether or not you want your baby to have the eye cream/ointment (erythromycin).
- When any other immunizations should be administered (if at all).
- Golden Hour (skin to skin contact, breastfeeding, bathed by mom or dad, etc.).
- Feeding preferences (breastfed only, formula, bottle, combination, etc.).
- Keeping the baby in the room or using the nursery.
In addition to newborn care, also note how you would like to be cared for during postpartum time. This can be anything from taking a sitz bath, keeping the placenta for encapsulation, having certain tinctures on hand, and the like.
When writing your birth plan, include others to help you. Having other minds working on it with you will help alleviate the stress of having to come up with everything on your own. Also, don’t hesitate to make revisions along the way. Be sure to have several copies on hand and give copies to everyone in your plan. I also recommend having your birth plan written by the third trimester so you can begin sharing it with your healthcare provider prior to the big day. This will allow everyone involved to be prepared to help you have the best labor, delivery, and postpartum experience ever!