Every parent wants the birth of their child(ren) to go off without a hitch. Nobody wants to go into labor prematurely. Nobody wants an emergency c-section. Nobody wants complications during their labor or delivery. And most parents would rather avoid any unnecessary interventions or treatments.
Unfortunately, when it comes to childbirth, some things are just out of our control. However, we can have a plan in place for the things we can control, for the way we hope for things to go, and for the way we would like to handle things if the unexpected does happen.
Don’t make any plans or decisions about your labor and delivery or about your health and your baby’s health without first doing your homework. Don’t write your birth plan based on your emotional motives, the experiences of others, or something you saw on TV.
Read books, read articles, and look online for information about the pros and cons of the many interventions that are often used during labor and delivery. And most importantly, be sure you understand the risks and know the possible outcomes if you decline certain interventions or go against medical advice. Communicate openly with your care provider and ask about things you are concerned about.
Find out the policies and procedures of the hospital or the place you plan to give birth ahead of time, as well as, find out what interventions your care provider routinely does. This way you won’t be disappointed down the road, or at least this way you will know what ‘fights’ you might have to put up. Finding out these things may even help you realize that maybe you should change care providers or birth settings.
If you have done your research and have educated yourself about the choices you are putting into your birth plan, being confident should be a little easier. I say a ‘little easier’ because for some women it can be hard to approach a care provider, especially a doctor that is very medically-minded when it comes to obstetrics, about our desires surrounding the birth of our baby.
Bring your spouse for support if you need to, or your doula, or someone else that can be their to build you up. Being confident will show your care provider that you are serious about what you want.
I’ll tell you right now that chances are high that your birth will NOT go as planned. We do not have complete control over our labor and birth of our child. But if you anticipate this and accept this ahead of time, you will be able to handle deviating from your birth plan much better.
Having faith that God is in control and that His ultimate plan will prevail will also help you to handle any unexpected or unplanned circumstances that may come your way. Remember, the ultimate goal is to have a healthy mom and baby.
When writing your birth plan, don’t write a book. You want your care providers to actually read it. I wouldn’t recommend going over two pages in length. Be sure it is easy to read by using bold headings, bullet points, and short phrases.
Some care providers are turned off by birth plans simply because of the way the parents present the plan to them. Before I brought in my birth plan, I discussed the idea of a birth plan with my care provider to feel them out and then let them know I planned to bring one at my next visit to discuss it with them. Make it a two-sided conversation; don’t just present and insist on what you want, but hear your care provider out as well. They want to know that their advice and professional opinion is being heard and considered. Present it as a discussion, not as your demands.
If after you go over your birth plan with your care provider and you feel that you weren’t heard and you get the feeling that you will be treated like a number, I would strongly suggest you consider looking for a new care provider.
So what should you include in your birth plan?
I like to start my birth plans out with a brief paragraph explaining the intent of our birth plan, requesting that our care providers help us to attain our goals, and what we would hope to happen in the event of complications. Then I consider the following:
- Who do you want present during your labor and delivery?
- Would you like music playing?
- Do you prefer the lights dimmed?
- Do you want to wear your own clothing?
- Would you like to film or photograph during the labor or delivery?
- Are you okay with having students, residents, interns, or non-essential personnel present?
- Would you like to remain mobile?
- What kind of monitoring would your prefer? Continual? Intermittent?
- Choice of positioning
- Frequency of internal exams
- How do you feel about having your membranes ruptured artificially?
- What is your preference for pain management?
- How do you feel about an IV or saline lock?
- Would you like to labor in the bath tub?
- Would you like to be able to eat or have ice chips during labor?
- If you go past your due date, at what point would you be willing to be induced?
- If your water breaks and labor does not begin, how long do you wait until you consider induction/augmentation?
- If labor is not progressing, what avenues would you like to try/take first?
- What position would you like to deliver in? Do you want the flexibility to choose?
- Would you like to view the birth in a mirror?
- Would you only like to push when you have the urge?
- If an assisted birth is necessary, would you prefer vacuum extraction or forceps?
- Would you like the baby placed skin to skin immediately after birth?
- Who will cut the cord?
- Do you desire delay-cord clamping?
- Will you be banking the cord blood?
- Do you want to delay routine newborn care?
- Do you wish to decline any of the newborn care?
- Do you plan to breastfeed?
- How do you feel about pacifiers and supplementing?
- Would you like the baby to room-in with you?
- If you have a boy, will he be circumcised?
In case of c-section
- Who would you like with you?
- Would you like someone to be with the baby?
Click on the image below to see a sample birth plan.
Have you written a birth plan?
What are some of the important things you would include in your birth plan?