Congratulations on your little bundle of joy! Now that you are pregnant it is a good idea to start thinking about what kind of birthing experience you want to have. A birth plan can help you do just that!
Why Should I Make a Birth Plan?
Let’s be real here, you don’t need to write a birth plan out! Tons of mama’s either don’t get the chance to because they go into labour before they get to it or choose to simply wing it. There is no right or wrong way here!
But, a birth plan can be a useful tool to help you decide where you stand on certain points because lets face it, a lot can happen during labour and delivery quite quickly.
As an added bonus giving a copy of your birth plan to your health care team helps them to know what you would like to happen. But, keep in mind just because you write a birth plan, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee you that those things will happen, try and stay flexible the day of!
So, what is a birth plan?
A birth plan is a short and sweet wish list of what you hope to have happen during labour, delivery and the moments after birth.
What Should I Include in my Birth Plan?
Birth plans don’t have to be super complex or lengthy and speaking as a nurse, its ideal if you keep your birth plan to the point – no one has time to read a 25 page essay on all the things you want to have happen, especially if things are progressing with your labour quickly. With that said, include whatever is important to you! Some common sections include:
You should include your name, contact information and phone number. Also include any allergies or special information that is important to note such as your RH status.
People you wish to have in the room
Typically you want to list your support person or next of kin here. Also indicate if you don’t want visitors or if you want to restrict visitors in any way.
Also, keep in mind the policy of your birthing center or hospital, you might not be able to bring more than one person into the delivery room and there may be a restriction on the number of visitors or visiting hours.
There are many options for pain relief during labour and delivery. Depending on where you choose to deliver your options might be limited so make sure to ask your healthcare provider what will be available to you.
Some common choices for pain relief are:
- Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas)
- IV medications – usually hydrophone or fentanyl
Trying to do things without medication? Check out The Birth Boot Camp online prenatal classes! Seriously they are the best and cover such a wide variety of topics – you won’t be disappointed!
It is also important to decide how you want to deliver your baby or if you would like to stay mobile during your labour. Both the position you are in and your ability to remain mobile could allow for an easier labour and shorter birthing process. Discuss your options with your health care provider.
Check out my post on preventing vaginal tearing which provides more insight into just how important different positions can be during labour and delivery!
Do you want it to be quiet, dim lights, essential oil diffusing, music playing, etc? Think about this and also look into your hospital or birthing center policies.
Consider your opinion on intravenous fluids. It is common practice for women in labour in a hospital setting to receive intravenous fluids for hydration, or to maintain blood pressure especially if getting an epidural.
Another thing to consider is if you want to be able to eat and drink during your labour. Often in a hospital setting, it is common for labouring mothers to be restricted on food and drink in case they need to go for a c-section. This usually limits you to just sips of water or ice chips.
It’s a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider to make an informed choice on what you would like to have happen here.
Sometimes the water breaks on its own, but other times it doesn’t. An OBGYN can manually break your water. Do your research and decide what is best for you.
Did you know that contractions don’t always start right away when your water breaks? Check out my 31 Hour Birth Story to read more about my experience!
Assistance With Delivery
Episiotomy, vacuum delivery, and forceps may be needed to assist the delivery of your baby in different situations. It is good to be informed on what all of those entail because it is usually an in the moment decision – you wont have the time to do your research then. So think about it now and speak with your healthcare providers if you have questions.
I was unlucky enough to have both an episiotomy and a vacuum delivery, both were not planned for.
You have the option of disposing of your placenta or keeping it. Many women chose to keep their placenta and have it encapsulated or cook it to eat. If you plan to keep it let your health care team know because this is not standard practice at the hospital I work in!
Postnatal care on baby after birth
There are a variety of procedures that happen after the baby is delivered. You have the right to accept them, refuse them or ask for them to be completed at a different time. Some of these procedures include:
- delayed cord clamping
- birth weight and height
- vitamin K shot
- eye drops
- skin to skin contact
- head to toe assessment of your baby
- blood work
Do you plan to breastfeed, formula feed or exclusively pump for bottle feedings? It is a good idea to have this figured out because your baby will eat shortly after birth.
Check out my post on preparing to breastfeed during pregnancy!
Can I have a birth plan if I am having a scheduled C-section?
Yes! A birth plan can still be an important tool to use during your childbirth experience to outline who will be present during the procedure as well as what your wishes are during the postpartum period.
Is there anything else I should keep in mind when writing a birth plan?
Be flexible with your expectations.
As a nurse I love birth plans, it helps me plan out your care and I don’t have to waste time wondering what your thoughts are on certain issues. It gives me more time to focus on you and your baby!
Know that your nurse will do whatever they can within reason to make your wishes come true – we want you to have a good labour, delivery and postpartum experience! But our main priority and responsibilities are to keep you and your baby safe. Not every childbirth goes as planned, so flexibility is a must on your part!
This kind of goes along with being flexible, but be polite and respectful when writing your birth plan. I know this seems like common sense, but you should see some of the things nurses are given from their patients! How would you like it if someone showed up to your place of work being rude and with a list of demands? Lets just both agree to be polite and respectful to each other, okay?
Ask all of your questions!
Your healthcare team (OBGYN, Midwife, Nurses, etc.) are all there to help you plan for your labour, delivery and postpartum experiences. When developing your birth plan (and on the big day), ask questions so that you understand your options. There is a lot of medical terminology that gets thrown around so make sure you ask for clarification on that if you need to as well.
Are you writing your birth plan? What topics do you consider most important? Id love to hear from you in the comments!
Check out this post on the realistic guide to packing your hospital bag to find out what else you REALLY need need to bring in addition to your birth plan.