Create a Birth Plan Today!

March 16, 2008

Most women today do not use a birth plan to prepare for the birth of their child.  They undoubtedly prepare for most aspects of their lives with a plan - but when it comes to giving birth, they don't always consider that they have options.  A birth plan is a written statement of the wishes of the mother-to-be. Why write it down?  Well, if you have specific ideas for your birth, delivery and after care, and you want those wishes to be met, it's often easier to express them in writing.  Similarly, in the heat of the moment, and in the heat of delivery, you may find yourself getting cloudy, or not expressing yourself as you wanted to.  You may also find it easier to comply with what others say, rather than to assert yourself when you are trying to deliver a baby!  A written birth plan helps to solve these problems.

When should you write the Birth Plan?

You should begin thinking about your birth plan as soon as you know that you are pregnant, particularly if this is your first time writing one.  A birth plan isn't done in a single day.  It's something fluid, that you should consider a great deal, and requires that you consider many different factors.  Find out what others say about using a doctor instead of a labor coach, about epidurals versus un-medicated births, and about drinking and eating during labor.  Your birth plan should take shape over time, and should be a statement of the things that you desire and expect from your birth.

What should you do with the Birth Plan?

Once you've formulated your plan, you should share it with the important people who will be part of your delivery.  Give a copy to your doctor during a routine visit, so that he or she has time to digest your requests and to add it to your medical file.  Share it with your birthing coach, your doula, and of course your spouse!  Bring a few copies to the hospital with you, so that you can give one to the attending nurse,  the doctor, and one to any other nurses or midwives who might be assisting you.

What should be in the Birthing Plan?

There are many great places online where you can find birthing plans.  These sites ask you multiple choice questions, and you fill in your answers.  This type of idea will help you to consider things that you might not have thought to include in your labor plan.  Some of the basic considerations include: Who do you want to be in the delivery room?  Do you want to be allowed to eat and drink during labor?  Do you want to move around, take a shower, soak in a tub, etc. during labor?  Will you take a routine IV?    Do you want your membrane ruptured?  Do you want to use pain relief medication?  Do you want/will you accept an episiotomy?  Who do you want to cut the umbilical cord?  Are you going to use cord blood banking?  Do you want to hold the baby and breastfeed immediately after delivery?  Do you want to room in with the baby?  Will you allow bottles or pacifiers?  Do you want a circumcision in the hospital?

Remember that things don't always go as planned during a delivery.  There may be medical reasons that the doctor or nurse can't hold to your desires. You might also find that your needs and requests change when you are in the midst of labor. It is important to remain flexible throughout your delivery. Despite this, many women find it useful to have a plan in place, in order to help you to keep your goals and desires in mind.

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