Whether you’re hoping for a natural birth or planning on an epidural or C-section, having a plan for your birth is KEY! Although labor rarely goes exactly how you envisioned it in your head, knowing what you want and being able to effectively communicate that with your healthcare team can alleviate a lot of stress and fear. Giving birth is one of the most (if not the most) important things you will ever do in your entire life. I always tell women who ask me fo\r advice that the single most important thing you can do is to be educated about pregnancy, labor, birth and the postpartum journey. I took a 10-week long course called Birth Bootcamp that people told me I was “crazy” to do. I heard from a lot of other moms that they couldn’t believe I would spend that much time preparing for birth. I was always so surprised by that response. I can’t imagine anything I would rather spend my time doing while pregnant than educating myself about what is about to happen to me and my baby. Birth is beautiful and exciting but it can also be scary and dangerous. One of the only things that
Now, onto the birth plan.
Important Personal Information
-Your full name and the name you go by. i.e. Kaitlin, Katie
The very top of your birth plan should include your important information. I recommend:
-Any relevant history: GBS status, Blood Type, Date of your last period, Birthday
-Here is a good place to include if you have any risk factors that your team should know about i.e. whether you have a high risk birth & why, if the baby has any pre-determined health issues, if you have an STD, etc.
-Your partner’s full name
-Any siblings names that will be attending the birth
-The name of your new baby if you have it picked out
-The name of your doula if you have one
-The name of your healthcare provider or practice
-The baby’s pediatrician (you should have one BEFORE going to the hospital)
What You Want
-I included a short synopsis of how I want my birth to go. It was a little different than the plan I had with Lily. I did a waterbirth in a different hospital so I included that I had taken the course to be certified for a waterbirth and the details associated with that. This is a good place to let the healthcare team know if you are planning on a natural birth or if you have pre-determined that you would like medication.
Labor & Birth
Here you want include short bullet points about anything relevant to the labor & delivery room. Some of my recommendations
-Who will be present in the room with you (my husband, my doula and my birth photographer). Include any siblings, relatives or support people here. My suggestion is limit this as much as possible. It may seem like a good idea to have a big group in there but you are going to want a calm atmosphere!
-If you are cord blood banking this is a good place to remind the team that they need to collect your blood for the kit.
-Vaginal exams- I prefer having a limited number of vaginal exams to check dilation and effacement. After lots of research and an experience myself I have realized that how far dilated your cervix is does not necessarily have a correlation with how soon you will deliver. Some women can be dilated for weeks before giving birth. I was 7 centimeters when I arrived for Lily and gave birth less than 40 minutes later. It’s different for everyone! I think it can disappoint women if they find out they’re only at a 3 and stall their progress. Also, the more vaginal exams you have, the more opportunities to introduce bacteria!
-I plan on having a natural birth, so I like to remind the staff that they are not to offer medication.
-Let the team know what type of environment you would like in the room. I suggest quiet, dim, peaceful, intimate, soft music playing if you’d like & I prefer the less people in the room the better
-I want to “catch” our baby, meaning I would like to pull him out. I did this with Lily and it was incredible! If this is something that interests you, let your team know here! If your partner would like to do this you can also mention that here.
-If you need emergency care let your provider know who you would like in the operating room with you. Most hospitals will only allow one person to go back with you.
Some other things you may want to include:
-Who will make your medical decisions if you can’t
-If you would like to move around during your labor (you do!)
-If you would like to be offered medication
-if there are any labor tools you would like to use (ice packs, bath, birth ball)
-If you would prefer intermittent fetal monitoring so you can move around (I was only monitored for about 8 minutes with Lily and then my labor progressed so quickly we did not continue monitoring)
-Whether you would like an IV connected for fluids (keep in mind this will make it so you cannot move around- I did not have a port with Lily but this time I agreed to let them put a port in if I end up needing anything- this way I can freely move around)
-Whether or not you would like an episiotomy (my doctor knows that I do NOT want an episiotomy)
-Whether you would be comfortable allowing forceps or a vacuum to assist the baby out (this is a BIG no for me)
-If you are having a C-Section here is a good place to make any requests i.e. a gentle, family-based C-Section. You can also request that your vaginal fluids are wiped onto the baby (this is huge for the baby’s immune system and microbiome.
-Skin to skin- If you have a vaginal birth you can request the baby is put directly on your chest immediately after birth and is not moved from there for at least an hour after birth (unless, of course, there is an emergency). This is very important bonding time for you and your baby. Also known as the “golden hour”
-Delayed cord clamping- it is really great to let all of the amazing stem cells inside the cord get to the baby. We delayed clamping until the cord stopped pulsing with Lily. This time we are Cord Blood Banking so we will allow the cord to pulse for 60 seconds before clamping (so we can keep some of it to bank.
-Indicate if you would like someone specific to cut the cord
-If you would like to deliver your placenta naturally (sometimes doctors will yank on the cord to pull it out)
-I don’t like my babies to leave me so I ask for all exams, when possible to be done on my chest. Of course, there are things like measurements and weight that will not be able to done on you.
-We also prefer our babies are not bathed in the hospital. You can indicate that here or let the staff know
-Your preferences for Vitamin K, Erythromycin Eye Ointment & Hepatitis B
-Preferences for feeding your baby (breast or formula)
-Let the team know if you are saving your placenta for encapsulation- they can make special arrangements to make sure it is properly stored.
-A reminder about saving the Cord Blood if you are doing it
-If you would like anything saved- we ask our receiving blankets to be saved for our dogs to smell before bringing the baby home.
-If you are having a boy, let the team know if you plan on having a circumcision in the hospital or not
-Some hospitals give all women Pitocin postpartum to help prevent extreme postpartum bleeding. I did not have that with Lily but because I had retained placenta postpartum my doctor is suggesting I think about doing this.
This probably seems like a LOT of information but don’t feel obligated to include all of this on your birth plan, I didn’t! Include the things that are very important to you and make sure your team (healthcare provider, partner, support person, and doula) know what you want. That way if for some reason you forget something on your birth plan, are incapacitated in any way or forget to tell the nurses that day, you’ll have a group who is able to instruct them accordingly. Do your best to include the most important information and keep it down to one page. Keep in mind the team will be VERY busy that day, especially if you have