Knowing how to create birth plans are a necessary part of the birth process. When birth happens, birth plans give parents and caretakers something to stick to.
I’m a big fan of birth plans especially for birth in hospital settings.
If you are birthing at home with a midwife you have probably had lots of time together during your appointments to discuss her philosophy of birth in comparison to your desires for your birth. Your midwife probably takes on a limited number of clients, maybe planning for only 1-4 births a month, so chances are good she will remember what you have discussed and how to best support you as an individual.
A birth plan in this instance may feel less important to you. Some women I have worked with at home have prepared a birth plan in the event of needing to transfer to the hospital whether before or during labor.
It’s a bit different if you are planning to birth in the hospital with a doctor; chances are high she/he will be working with at least 20+ other woman during your month of birth and chances are higher you might want to document your discussions to ensure you get that individualized support.
A birth plan covers: Labor, birth and postnatal periods.
I would like to highlight these are your PREFERENCES.
Often the best laid plans take another turn, part of the journey may be softening into the twists and turns nature takes.
Photo: Unison Photo
Top 7 reasons to prepare and plan your birth preferences:
- Help you get clear about what you want! Everything starts with a desire. Looking and learning about your various options, decisions you’ll need to make and how you envision your birth unfolding is a very empowering process.
- It gives both you and your partner an opportunity to discuss your birth, your options, how you each see it, imagine it, feel it, and then get on the same page! This is key
- It gets conversations going with your care provider, you’ll definitely want to discuss her/his approach to the points you being unpacking for yourself.
- Lets your care provider know you are invested in the process and want to make decisions and be seen as an individual
- Through this process you might find your philosophies of birth don’t match and its time to find a better match (care provider not husband!)
- Gives accountability for the type of care you receive; you doctor needs to sign your birth plan around 36weeks, giving their agreement to support you in the ways you have mentioned.
- Once you get to the hospital it shows the staff you are well informed and have been putting in time to your birth preparation
When your putting it all together keep in mind the following 10 essential points!
- It is positive! Highlight more of what you want then want you don’t want
- It fits on one page
- It is in point form
- Use header and footer to squeeze in more information
- Is realistic
- Is personal! Give an introduction
- You’ve discussed prenatally each of the points with your care provider.
- You’ve gotten Care provider (CP) to read, acknowledge then sign it
- You bring the signed copy with you when you go to birth
- You partner knows it inside and out so when you get to the hospital in nice strong active labor he can handle any questions/clarifications from the staff on both your behalf’s so it doesn’t become a distraction for you.
This is a brilliant visual birth plan which you can modify from The Best Season of My Life! Here’s the article.
Topics to consider when putting together your birth plan:
- Hospital Clothes verse wearing your own clothes?
- Students/interns caring for you?
- Who will be supporting you in the room? (partner/doula)
- Medications for pain management and fatigue
- Induction / augmentation
- Antibiotic during birth (GBS and/or open waters)
- Continuous verse intermittent monitoring
- Eating and drink in labor
- Freedom of movement
- Directed Pushing verse mother led breathing
- Partner to help catch baby
- Seeing in a mirror when baby is emerging/touching baby’s head yourself
- Forceps and vacuums
- Timing of cutting the umbilical cord
- Planned active or expectant (natural) management of third stage?
- Do you want to see your placenta after? Do you want to keep it?
- Undisturbed skin to skin contact with baby (for the first hour)
- Would you want to consider using donor milk if supplementation is required?
- Rooming in with your baby
- Resources coming to baby not baby to resources (warmer, stethoscope, thermometer)
- Vitamin K injection
- Vaccinations (please delay until after 6 weeks)
If birth takes another turn and you require a cesarean:
- Partner or doula allowed in the room with you?
- Arm not tied now so you can touch your baby?
- Baby comes to you directly?
- Don’t announce the sex of baby until you can see yourself?
- Baby to stay with partner for skin to skin in the recovery room?
You’ve been working beautifully to hear, trust and follow your intuition; this is going to be a huge asset for you through out your pregnancy, birth and parenting. There are a LOT of decisions to make and a lot of responsibility in each of those decisions.
I invite you while going through these points, perhaps even while learning more in your childbirth education class, to sit in your intuition center. When you discuss them with your CP sit in your intuition center as well. From that place you will be even more tuned into picking up how they respond, how their responses makes you feel, and whether or not you have any red flags that come up in your system.
If red flags do come up, follow them it could be time to seek out another CP
Enjoy your discovery!
Here is a great birth story about how sticking to a birth plan helped two parents achieve a great water birth.