When you first found out you were expecting, chances are you had a hundred different thoughts running through your head all at the same time. Feelings of excitement, nervousness and maybe even a bit curiosity were sprinkled in there, mixing together to form some big questions. The first question: Where do you even begin?
As the weeks and months went by, you quickly learned a thing or two about what to do and where to start on this new journey of motherhood. But, as you come closer and closer to the day of delivery, one thing becomes crystal clear: you need a plan. A birth plan. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “A birth plan is a simple, clear, one-page statement of your preferences for the birth of your child.” A birth plan ensures you have every question answered and everything planned out before the actual day of delivery, helping everything to run as smoothly as possible when the new little one arrives.
If you’ve never given birth before, creating a birth plan might seem like a daunting and confusing task; but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s learn more about steps and measures to take on how to create a birth plan for your baby.
The first thing to do when creating your birth plan is to start out with the basics. Include your name, your partner’s name, doctor’s name and contact information, where you plan to give birth and who you plan on having with you there. Discuss any big details—like the hospital location, doctor involved or delivery type—with your healthcare provider beforehand. Then, consider the atmosphere you want in the room. Do you want one loved one in the room with you, or multiple? Do you prefer the room to be quiet and the lights dimmed, or have music playing in the background? Would you like a support person there to take pictures or video during the labor or birth? Consider the where, who and how in the early stages of your birth plan as you decide on what makes the atmosphere the most comfortable for you.
When putting your birth plan together, it’s important to note that family or friends might have opinions they want considered. Whether it’s your partner, a parent or even a good friend, people might try to “help” by giving their own opinions on what your birth plan should look like. While you do want to consider other people’s thoughts, it’s important to remember this is your birth plan, and your comfort should be the ultimate deciding factor. Include as much outside influence as you prefer, but don’t be afraid to make the decisions that best fit your needs.
After you’ve decided upon the atmosphere you want, include any preferences you have for the labor and delivery. For instance, do you want to use a birthing stool? Would you like to take a warm shower or bath? Pain medication is also something to consider. Perhaps you prefer not to have an epidural, but want to rely on other pain management techniques, such as breathing or massage. Or, maybe you want the epidural as soon as possible. Discuss different pain management techniques with your doctor beforehand and include them in your birth plan. Other things to consider in your birth plan pre-, during and post-delivery include:
- Using a doula.
- Cord clamping.
- Skin to skin contact.
- Breastfeeding after birth.
- Birthing position.
- Fetal monitoring.
- Water birth.
- Placenta requests.
- Partner catches the baby.
As you create your birth plan, it’s important to have a backup plan if possible. Recognize that sometimes even the most involved birth plans don’t always go exactly to, well, plan. MedlinePlus states, “It’s important to stay flexible. Keep in mind that some of the things you want may not be possible. So you may want to think about them as your birth preferences, rather than a plan.” Give yourself the flexibility to change your mind in the moment during the birthing process.
For instance, maybe you planned on not using pain medication, but it ends up being necessary during delivery. Or, perhaps your healthcare provider feels that certain steps are going to be better for yours or your baby’s health, even if they’re out of line with the plan. In that case, consider any “backup” plans you might have. For example, if your labor stops progressing or complications arise, the medical team may need to take steps such as breaking your amniotic sac, augmenting your labor or having a C-section. Recognize that steps like these—even if they are not in the birth plan—are all geared toward your optimum comfort and health through the birthing process.
Having a birth plan can give you a sense of confidence and control in an otherwise overwhelming and uncontrollable situation. While everything might not always go according to the plan, having an outline from the very beginning about what you want is a great way to communicate your needs with family, friends and medical staff. To get an idea of what a birth plan can be, check out an example from My Birth Plan. Talk with your healthcare provider about your birth plan options and put together the best plan possible for your comfort, health and wellness during delivery.
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