Giving birth is one of the most amazing and personal experiences of your life. You deserve to have a say in how you want it to happen. This is where your “birth plan” comes in. A birth plan is a document that outlines your preferences for your labour, birth and hospital stay. It helps you communicate with your partner, health care provider and birthing team. It also helps you learn about your options and helps you prepare for the delivery you want.
Table of Contents
Why do you need a Birthing Plan?
Some of the benefits of creating a birth plan are that it helps you:
- communicate your delivery plan and preferences.
- learn about your available choices.
- prepare for the type of delivery you want to have.
- make decisions in labour based on what is important to you.
What To Include In Your Birthing Plan
Your birth plan should include any relevant information about your medical history. Things like previous surgeries, allergies, etc. You should also include the medical history of your immediate family members (parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.) and any medical concerns for you or your baby. Finally, include any medications you are taking.
Who Is Involved In Your Birthing Team
You should specify who you want to be involved in your birthing team for your planned birth. It would be better to mention those in your birthing team by name. Let your health care provider know if you will have a midwife or doula during your labour and delivery – will they be at your home or only in the hospital to support you? Let them know who you have chosen as your birthing provider: midwife, family medicine provider or OBGYN.
Pain Management Preferences
You should also think about how you prefer to manage your labour pain, whether you want pain medications or to explore other options, if you’re interested in an epidural, nitrous “laughing gas” or IV pain medications.
Type of Birth
Mention what type of birth you are hoping to have, the natural birth experience, a water birth, whether it be a vaginal or caesarean birth (C-section) and whether midwife or doula-assisted birth.
Birth Positions and Resources
You should also think about which positions you are open to and want to try during labour. You should also include any additional tools or resources you may want or need. Check if you can get supplies in your delivery room to help like: birthing balls, squatting chairs, squatting bars, soaking tubs, showers, aromatherapy.
Unexpected Changes in Birth
Sometimes birth can be uncertain and things don’t go as planned. You may plan for a vaginal birth, but sometimes your health care provider may advise a C-section or may have to switch to a C-section during labour. It is a good idea to consider how your labour plan might adapt if necessary. State how you like to make decisions, how you best learn information, and whether you want more or less details.
After Your Newborn Arrives
Once your baby arrives, you still have some decisions to make. Mention who you prefer to cut your baby’s umbilical cord and also think about doing skin-to-skin after your baby is born. Holding your baby this way will help them bond with you (and your partner) through your scent, touch, voice and the feel of your skin.
Creating a birth plan is a way of expressing your wishes and preferences for your labour, birth and hospital stay. Inquire with your healthcare provider if you have any questions about your birth plan. Keep your birth plan short and simple including bullet points as this will make it easier to read and follow. You can keep an extra copy in your hospital bag as well.
Remember that your birth plan is not set in stone, and you may need to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances. The most important thing is that you and your baby are safe and healthy.