Baby name picked out. Check. Bag packed for the hospital. Check. Baby’s room ready. Check. You are looking forward to the birth of your baby and holding your new little bundle of joy in your arms. But there may be one more thing to do before the big day. Like many expectant mothers, you might want to create a birth plan so everyone involved in the labor and delivery will be familiar with your preferences for the birth of your baby.
A birth plan is a communication tool that summarizes how you want different aspects of your baby’s birth to be handled. It is not a contract, but rather a simple, clear, one- to two-page statement that outlines your choices. The birth plan is a guideline that can be changed at any time and should be flexible in case something comes up at the hospital or you change your mind after labor begins.
It is probably best not to wait until the last minute to create your birth plan. You might want to discuss your choices with your health care provider and ask for feedback or suggestions. Once you have completed your birth plan, give a copy to your doctor, send one to the hospital where you plan to give birth, and pack one to take with you on the day you give birth. Some topics you might want to address in the birth plan include the following:
- Who do you want in the delivery room? (partner, parents, family, friends or other siblings)
- How do you want to manage your labor? (walk around, change positions or labor in a birthing tub or shower)
- Do you want to wear your own clothes or a hospital gown?
- Do you want to wear your glasses or contact lenses (if possible)?
- What kind of environment do you want during labor? (play your own music, dim the lights and have minimal interruptions)
- What do you want to do to relieve pain? (massage, medications, breathing exercises or hot and cold packs)
- Do you want to avoid induction or an episiotomy unless medically necessary?
- Would you prefer a routine IV, heparin/saline block or nothing at all?
- How often do you want fetal monitoring?
- Do you have any special requests in case you need to have a Cesarean delivery?
- Is videotaping or photography allowed in the delivery room?
- Who will cut the umbilical cord?
- Will you bank the umbilical cord blood?
- Do you want your baby immediately placed on your stomach/chest after delivery?
- Do you want to breastfeed?
- Do you want your baby to room-in with you?
- Can your baby have a pacifier?
- If you have a boy, do you want him to be circumcised?
A birth plan can help you feel more confident about the upcoming birth and part of the decision making process even if there are unforeseen circumstances.
For more information about creating a birth plan, talk with your doctor or call 866-904-9262 for a free referral to an obstetrician/gynecologist near you.