Almost every mom these days has a birth plan for their upcoming birth. But what exactly is a birth plan? And what should you include? Below, I am going to give you a few tips to help you in deciding what is important to you for your birth and what should be optional based on your birth experience.
Who will be attending your birth?
It is helpful for the hospital staff or midwife to know who you want in your personal space when birthing. If your partner, doula and birth photographer are all you can envision being there when your little bundle arrives, make sure the people supporting you understand your wishes. Nurses are great allies when that unwanted visitor shows up to the hospital. I often offer my families my assistance in redirecting well-meaning family members to the waiting room, or even better, sending them on a "very important" errand!
How do you want to labor?
Do you envision yourself moving a lot in labor? Do you see yourself laboring in water at some point? Do you think you’ll like to have music, candles, aromatherapy or other ambiance to set the tone of the room? Include these wishes in your preferences. Moms who move during labor instinctually work with their bodies to get baby into great birthing positions. Having the opportunity to move as and when you feel is best helps with an uninhibited birth.
What routine procedures do you want to opt out of?
Not a fan of needles? Does the idea of continuous fetal monitoring seem counterintuitive to you? Speak to your provider about your options for hep-lock or IV refusal. Find out what your provider feels comfortable with and discuss how you can both get what you’d like. Do you want to eat and drink during labor? Research is actually on your side for that one! Asking your provider what routine procedures are typically expected will give you a good base for what you might want to decline.
How do you want to actually give birth?
In many instances, mothers will give birth in uncomfortable positions and with interventions they do not actually want but due to being in labor, can’t have that important discussion to decline something or clarify her wishes. It is best to have this discussion before you ever go into labor so your provider knows what to expect. If you’re birthing in a hospital or birth center, it’s a great idea for you or your doula to discuss with the staff what your expectations during pushing are so they can uphold them. If there are things that are very important to you, such as no counting or delayed cord clamping until pulsation stops or placenta encapsulation, make sure that is highlighted in your plan.
Newborn baby procedures!
Do you want immediate skin-to-skin with baby? How about erythromycin? Do you want baby to be suctioned upon birth of the head or not at all? Are you leaving baby intact or choosing to circumcise? These are all important baby procedures that need to be discussed beforehand with your care provider. If you are wanting anything out of standard hospital procedures for a birth in a hospital, be sure to alert your nurses as well. Most midwives will encourage you to hold your baby right away and will not disrupt that bonding time until you are ready, unless it becomes medically necessary.