The birth of your baby should be one of the most memorable, life-changing and joyful experiences of your life. You will want to spend time thinking through the details of your hopes and desires for this special event. Starting with a journal, write down as many of thoughts and plans for the upcoming birth as you can. Your journal will help you establish priorities and provide a list of ideas to help you create a birth plan.
A birth plan is a simple, clear statement of your preferences for the birth of your child. Providing a copy of the plan for everyone directly involved in the birth will help them better understand what is happening and give them the opportunity to resolve issues before the big day. Because there are so many aspects of birth to consider, it is best not to wait until the last minute to put your plan together. The plan will provide an effective avenue for discussing important details with those responsible for supporting and caring for you.
During childbirth, many women feel like they are losing control. A birth plan helps many women maintain their focus and regain a measure of control even if unexpected events occur.
Try to remain reasonably flexible in your desires because things don't always go according to plan. Remember that the important thing is the safe birth of your baby. Keeping that goal in mind, the following points can serve as a guide for your plan.
You may want to consider dedicating an entire page for an uncomplicated birth/postpartum and a second page about how to handle complications should they occur. The following list of questions might seem overwhelming, but now is the time to consider them one by one. If you find that a question does not pertain to you, just cross it off the list and continue to prioritize those that are relevant.
- Who do you want to be present?
- Do you want a doula?
- What activities or positions do you plan to use? (walking, standing, squatting, hands and knees)
- Do you prefer a certain position to give birth?
- What will you do for pain relief? (massage, hot and cold packs, positions, labor imagery, relaxation, breathing exercises, tub or Jacuzzi, medication)
- How do you feel about fetal monitoring?
- How do you plan to keep hydrated? (sips of drinks, ice chips, IV)
- Do you want pain medications, or not?
- Do you have a preference for certain pain medications?
- What are your preferences for your baby's care? (when to feed, where to sleep)
- Do you want to use the tub or shower?
- If you need a cesarean, do you have any special requests?
Keeping in mind that every birth is different and that the definition of a “normal” birth can vary, try to use terms and phrases like “birth preferences,” “our wishes for childbirth,” “as long as birth progresses normally,” or “unless there is an emergency.”
Try to plan for the unexpected by using phrases like, “If a cesarean becomes necessary...” During birth, if you feel pressured to do something about which you are uncertain, you can ask if it is an emergency situation. You can also request more information on any aspect of the situation and time to think about it.
Design your birth plan with a focus on the positive. Instead of making a list of what you don't want. Use words like, “We hope to” or “We plan to” or “We anticipate.” Try to avoid phrases like, “We don't want” or “We want to avoid.”
Here are some examples:
“Regarding pain management, I have studied and understand the types of pain medications available. I will ask for them if I need them.”
“Immediately following the birth, I plan to keep the baby near me. I would appreciate the evaluation of the baby be done with the baby on my abdomen, with both of us covered by a warm blanket, unless there is an unusual situation.”