Birth plans are becoming increasingly popular. A birth plan is a useful tool you can use to help communicate your wishes for your labor and delivery experience to your healthcare team. Before the big day arrives, take some time to think and discuss with your partner your wishes for your birthing experience. Once you and your partner have discussed those aspects of your birth that are of utmost importance to you, write it down and discuss them with your healthcare provider. With that said, it is important to remember that there are situations which may arise that will necessitate deviation from your plan especially if your or your child’s health is in jeopardy.
It is also important to note that every birthing facility is different and has its own unique set of rules and regulations. For example, hospitals are more strict in certain areas whereas childbirth facilities (birth centers using midwives) may be better equipped to fulfill requests such as birthing tubs, allowing for food and fluid during labor and delivery, natural induction techniques, etc. Many physicians and nurses are still warming up to the idea of birth plans. To help make your birth plan as welcoming as possible, make it as short and to the point as possible. Reviewing it with your healthcare provider will also help.
What should go into your birth plan and how do you write one? The best thing to do is to jot down a few desires that are very important to both you and your significant other. Here are some common topics included in typical birth plans:
- Individuals you would like present during your labor and delivery.
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- Laboring positions you would like to try.
- Special requests such as aromatherapy, music, dim lighting, mirror to watch the birth, etc.
- Interventions for starting labor: natural vs. medication.
- Pain management therapies during labor: natural vs. medication (narcotic, local anesthetic, epidural, etc.).
- Birthing positions you would like to try.
- Would you like an episiotomy or would prefer to tear naturally?
- Videotaping and/or taking pictures of the birth.
- If you desire to bank your child’s umbilical cord blood.
- Your desired feeding method for your newborn: breastfeeding only, bottle feeding or combination of both.
- Would you like your baby bathed? If so, do you have specific bathing products you would like used?
- Medications and tests you would not like given/performed on your newborn. Please be advised that you will have to sign a waiver that you are refusing these treatments.
- Would you like your baby boy circumcised before you go home?
- During your stay, would you like your baby to remain in your room as much as possible, remain in the nursery at night or brought to you for feedings?
Now, again, it’s very important to discuss your wishes with your healthcare provider to ensure your wishes do not interfere with your caregiver’s or your birthing facility’s rules and regulations. Once you have finalized your birth plan, be sure to make several copies (5 should be sufficient) to dispense to your healthcare team. Remember to be flexible and enjoy.
Need help with your birth plan? Earth Mama Angel Baby has a very thorough birth plan that is free and can be filled out online and printed. Click here to start writing your birth plan today.
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Author : Diba Tillery RN, BSN, IBCLC, CPST