Creating Your Birth Plan
Consider Your Preferences
This is a great activity to help you get prepared for the birth of your baby. Just keep in mind that whatever plans you make may need to be adjusted or even sometimes thrown out the window if necessary, so remember to be flexible in your planning. Think through different ideas and maybe give yourself a couple of options to help cope with the pain. Some mothers enjoy soft music, showers, walking, rocking, being massaged, and baths while other mothers may want to lie still, sleep, be alone, and so on. The truth is, until you are actually in labor you may not have any idea what you are going to want. So, try coming up with different options that you can try when the time comes. You don’t want to over complicate your birth plan, but it is a good idea to outline your preferences and create a short document so that everyone involved can be on the same page.
What to Include in Your Birth Plan
- Consider who you want with you in the birthing room and what support you are going to need to get through the process. Do you want a doula, just your spouse, or a couple good supportive friends/family members?
- Think about your different options for pain medication, if you plan to get an epidural, Stadol, or just go through the process without any help. Talk to your healthcare provider when it comes to this topic and do a little research. Generally speaking, epidurals are pretty safe, but they are a medical procedure and just like any medical procedure they carry some level of risk. A lot of moms go into labor with the mindset that they are going to avoid pain medication altogether, and then as the pain comes and becomes unbearable they opt for the epidural. Keep this in mind when planning your pain management, there is no shame in taking the drugs. Do some research on your different options and try to get an idea of what you are comfortable with ahead of time.
- Fetal monitoring: I found after having my first baby that being strapped to a bed with monitors on my tummy and my movement restricted was not my idea of a good labor experience. I found that I preferred to have the freedom to move around and change positions. Because of this, I generally opt for only necessary monitoring, and I ask to be given the ability to get up and move as often as possible. But again, everybody is different and in some cases where the health of the baby is in question you may not even have this option. The best practice is to think about it early and outline your preferences in your birth plan.
- Decide how you feel about episiotomies and other medical interventions. Again, sometimes these interventions are necessary, so be flexible. Allow yourself to have a plan and possibly talk with your care provider about how to avoid things you feel uncomfortable with, but keep in mind that your health and baby’s health are the most important thing.
- Postdelivery care: As soon as your baby is born often times their health is going to be evaluated by medical professionals. This is necessary of course, but you have some options as far as skin to skin contact following delivery, how soon you want to breastfeed if you plan to, and how much medical intervention and care you want for baby. Do your research gather some different ideas and talk to your care provider or other moms to gauge what will suit you and your little one best.
- It’s a good practice to discuss possible complications and how these should be handled. This is where things can get tricky because like I said it is impossible to plan for every scenario but having a general idea and plan in place for how to deal with complications can help you be prepared for the unexpected and give your care team an idea of your preferences. With my daughter, my water broke, but I did not have any contractions. I got to the hospital and although I absolutely hate Pitocin and the thought of being induced, I did not have a birth plan in place that dealt with this, and I felt like I was kind of bullied into getting Pitocin too early. I regretted that decision and with my next pregnancy, I had a section in my birth plan especially dedicated to Pitocin (basically I did not want it unless absolutely necessary). Consider things like this: C-Sections, and other instances where maybe your labor isn’t progressing as you planned. This is another great time to involve your doctor in your planning. They can give you some guidance and the procedures they typically follow in different scenarios.
Get Your Partner and Support Team Involved
The big day can seem overwhelming when it arrives, depending on your pain level and how things play out you may feel like you have no control. This is where your partner and your support people come in. They should know your preferences and birth plan thoroughly so that they can help ensure things go according to your wishes. In addition, this gives everyone a job to do and helps them feel like valued members of the birthing team.
Review Your Hospitals Policies
Your hospital care team is trained to do things a certain way. This is their job, and the procedures and policies they follow are in place to ensure the health of you and your baby. Many hospitals or birthing centers have a lot of room for mother’s preferences, but they will also balance your requests with the health of you and baby in mind. Therefore, it is a good idea to review these policies and procedures ahead of time, this way there are no surprises on delivery day. You want your care team to understand your preferences and you will need to be aware of any requests that they may deem too risky. It’s a good idea to go over your labor plan with the hospital/birthing center ahead of time just so everyone can be on the same page. You may be able to set up a meeting and possibly tour the hospital and delivery rooms to help you feel more prepared when creating your birth plan.
Your Doctor Knows Best
Just as it’s important to involve the hospital in planning your care, it’s equally important to involve your doctor. Every pregnancy is different, and your doctor has cared for you throughout this joyous time. Therefore, she is going to have the most knowledge relating to your particular set of circumstances. Get your doctor involved when your creating your delivery plan. She can go over this with you and help you make the most out of your plan. By balancing your wants and desires with the health of you and your little one you are sure to have a better labor, delivery, and postpartum experience.