How to Create a Perfect Birth Plan

What are your hopes and desires for the delivery of your baby? If you don’t already have an idea of what you imagine for this life-changing event, we recommend that you start thinking about it and writing down your thoughts. This is the first step in creating your birth plan. 
 
What is a birth plan?
Every woman deserves to have some measure of control over her own body and what happens to it, especially during an experience as intimate and exhausting as childbirth. Your birth plan is your way of communicating your wishes to the doctors and midwives who will take care of you during delivery. It should describe what you’d like to have happen and what you want to avoid. 
 
How do I write my birth plan?
Gather as much information about birth and delivery as possible before you make any decisions. Attend antenatal classes at your local hospital and/or with your midwife. Talk to mothers who had different delivery experiences. Try to find women who delivered both at a hospital and at home to get a feel for the differences in care. 
 
Once you have done enough research about your choice and spoken to a few people, start to outline your wishes in writing. Include your spouse and/or your birth partner in this process. You want to make sure they understand and agree with your wishes. Whoever is in the room with you during delivery should be able to help advocate for your birth plan. 
 
 
What can I include in my birth plan?
Your birth partner: 
Identify the person you want with you during labor. Specify whether you want this person to remain with you all the time, or if there are certain stages when you would want him or her to leave the room.
 
Equipment:
Your hospital may have wall bars, mats, birth walls, or beanbags. You can ask that these be available to you during labor. Also think of any other equipment you’d like to bring from home. 
 
Pain Relief:
Outline which types of pain relief you are open to, if any, and in what order. Consider breathing exercises, warmth, massage, or TENS machine as alternatives to chemical painkillers. Your birth plan should also mention any types of pain relief you explicitly want to avoid. 
 
Positions for labor and birth: 
Definitely do your research here, as there as a number of possible positions. You may prefer to remain upright and mobile for as long as possible, or to sit in bed propped up by pillows. Lying on your side, kneeling, squatting, and standing are all options. 
 
Heart rate monitor:
Typically a midwife will monitor your baby’s heartbeat at  irregular intervals, about every 10-15 minutes. If you have experienced any pregnancy complications that would justify continuous electronic monitoring (CEM), that request should be part of your birth plan. 
 
 
Birth Assistance:
You can specify which types of birth assistance you are okay with and which you are not, or you can leave that decision up to your doctor depending on what happens during labor. 
 
Managed third stage:
If you are delivering at a hospital, you'll probably be offered an injection to accelerate the delivery of the placenta. This is called a managed third stage. You can choose to accept or refuse the injection. 
 
Cord cutting: 
If you want someone special write that into your birth plan. A birth plan can specify a delayed cord clamping as well. 
 
Skin-to-skin contact:
You can ask for your newborn baby to be placed directly on your tummy right after birth.
 
What do I do with my birth plan?
After creating your birth plan, share it with your midwife before week 36 of your pregnancy. Discuss the plan with your midwife, ask questions, and be open to changes. Unexpected situations may arise during delivery, so expect to be flexible with your birth plan. 
 
Once your birth plan is finalized, keep it someplace easy to find when you go into labor. You want it with you during delivery to do its job!
 
 
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