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Create a Birth Plan to Take Control of Your Birthing Experience

Pregnancy can be a very exciting and exhilarating time in one’s life. It can also be stressful, leaving an expectant mother feeling as though things are completely out of her control. One thing that you can do to reduce stress and prepare for the arrival of your family’s newest addition is create a birth plan. A birth plan will ensure that you are as prepared as possible for the birthing experience. It can also help you get ready ahead of time with questions that are important to discuss with your birth team well before the arrival of your new little angel.

What is a Birth Plan?

The birth of your little miracle should be one of the most memorable experiences of your life. You want to spend time thinking about the details of how the birth of your child will go along with the desires and dreams that you have for this special event. Your birth plan will likely be a simple, one to three-page statement that clearly defines your preferences regarding the birth of your child. You will want to provide a copy of this plan to everyone who will be directly involved with the birth of your child to help them understand your desires and clear up any issues before the big day arrives. A copy of the plan should be provided to your obstetrician, the members of the birthing team, your spouse, and any other participants in the birthing process.

How Do You Create a Birth Plan?

When creating a birth plan, there are some things you will want to keep in mind.

• You should begin creating the birth plan as early as the beginning of your second trimester, as you will want ample time to put a lot of thought into the creation of the plan.

• The plan may change as your pregnancy progresses. There is nothing wrong with making changes to the details of your plan, no matter how many times you wish to change it or how many changes you wish to make.

• You should keep in mind that the delivery of your baby can be unpredictable. You may need to deviate from the plan during the actual birthing process, so be prepared in case this occurs.

Preparing for Your Birth Plan

To create your plan, you may want to begin with a notebook or a journal. You will use this journal to write down any thoughts that you may have about the upcoming arrival of your new bundle of joy. You should definitely note any experiences that you may wish to have during the labor and delivery process. While this journal will be much longer than the actual birth plan itself, it will help you organize your thoughts and will serve as a great stepping stone for the creation of the actual birth plan.

Just before you write the plan, you should ask yourself a number of questions and write the answers to these questions in your journal. The answers to these questions will help you create your birth plan, ensuring you have all your bases covered. The following questions can help you prepare for the creation of your finalized plan.

• Do you wish to utilize the services of a doula or midwife?

•What are your plans for transportation to and from the hospital?

• Do you want music played during labor? If so, will you be supplying the music and the device on which the music will be played?

• Do you want the hospital staff allowed in the room to be limited to only the doctors and nurses who will be working with you and your child? Would you prefer that access be restricted to interns, students, or residents?

• Would you like your other children in the room at the time of birth, if possible?

• Who do you want to be present at the time of the birth?

• Do you want to remain mobile during labor or do you wish to remain in bed?

• What activities do you plan to use to make the birthing process easier, such as kneeling, walking, or squatting?

• Is there a certain position you prefer to give birth in?

• Do you want the hospital to perform fetal monitoring during the birthing process?

• How do you plan to keep hydrated during labor? Do you prefer ice chips, sips of drinks, or an IV drip?

• Are there things you wish to avoid if possible, such as an enema, shaving of your pubic area, a urinary catheter, or an IV?

• What do you prefer in terms of pain relief? Do you wish to use massage, hot and cold packs, relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, a Jacuzzi tub, or medication?

• If you will be using pain medications, are there certain medications you prefer or certain medications you do not want administered to you during labor? For example, would you rather use Demerol than have an epidural?

• Do you want the doctor to perform labor augmentation and if so, which methods do you prefer the doctor employ and which do you prefer to avoid? For example, is it alright with you if the doctor strips your membranes or do you wish to avoid this procedure if at all possible?

• Are there certain measures you would like to avoid, such as an episiotomy?

• Do you wish to wear your own clothing during the labor and delivery process?

• If you should need a cesarean, do you have any special requests?

• Once the baby is born, how do you prefer the care of the baby to be handled? Do you want the baby to be taken care of in the nursery or would you prefer the baby stay in the room with you?

As you can see, you need to put quite a bit of thought into the birth plan that you will be creating. The more thought that you put into the plan, the better the chances are that there will be no issues or confusion during the actual birthing process in regards to what should be done or how you want things handled.

Discussing Your Birth Plan with Your Health Care Provider

With as much thought and effort as you will be putting into your birth plan, it is only natural that the plan will become personal to you. As personal as this plan may be, you must keep in mind that you need to discuss the plan with your doctor as the exciting day approaches. You must also be ready (and willing) to make changes to the plan if necessary.

It is important to remember that doctors have their own routines and that hospitals have their own policies. For example, you may wish to have your other children in the room with you during the delivery of your new child. For you and your spouse, this may be an important part of the birth plan. If the hospital has rules against children who are under a certain age being in the room during the delivery process, however, you may have to alter your birth plan. Remember not to take any necessary changes to your plan personally. Hospitals have guidelines that they must follow and as much as the hospital’s staff would like to accommodate your every desire, sometimes that just isn’t possible due to rules and regulations that have been put into place to protect you and your new arrival.

Steps You Should Consider Taking to Make Your Birth Plan More Accurate

When you are creating your birth plan, a lot of the work that you are doing will be guesswork. For example, your birth plan may say that you will only ask for pain medication if you decide at some point that you really need it. However, there may be a window in which pain medication may be given during the labor and delivery process. You should become familiar with the policies regarding pain medication at the hospital in which you will deliver. This way, when you present your birth plan to your obstetrician and the birthing center staff, your birth plan can say:

“I understand that I must request medication after (enter beginning of window timeline) and after (enter end of window timeline) and I will ask for pain medication if I feel I need it within this time period.”

Instead of just saying:

“I will ask for pain medication if I feel as though I need it during the labor and delivery process.”

This is why it is important to become familiar with the policies of the hospital and your doctor when creating your plan. Physicians and hospital staff alike will tend to take your birth plan more seriously the more detailed it is and the more accurate it is in regards to the hospital’s guidelines and regulations.

Be sure you discuss the regulations of the hospital with your health care provider and that you understand what is and what is not allowed in regards to your plan for childbirth. You may go out and spend $100 on a birthing gown only to find out that the hospital requires you to wear their garments during the delivery process. The chances of you having to deviate from your plan increase significantly if you do not ask the right questions before preparing and finalizing your plan.

In addition to asking questions, you may also want to take a tour of one of the birthing rooms in the birthing center where you will be giving birth. This way, if your birth plan says that you wish to use a Jacuzzi tub to help you through labor, but there is no such tub in the room, you can alter your plan accordingly.

Avoiding Negative Thinking and Statements When Writing Your Plan

Just as there are things you will want to include in your birth plan, there are also things that you are going to want to avoid.

First and foremost, avoid negative thinking. If you begin thinking about all of the things you don’t want during the labor and delivery process, your birth plan will be little more than a list of things you don’t want happening during the experience rather than instructions that put you in better control of the situation. For example, instead of simply stating “I don’t want the baby taken out of the room after delivery” when creating your plan, you may wish to state something like, “I would prefer to keep the baby with me at all times after delivery, unless there are special circumstances that warrant the removal of the baby from the room.”

Modifying Your Birth Plan as Necessary

Remember, you cannot possibly predict every single factor that may need to be taken into account during the delivery of your child. As such, you may need to modify your plan at any given time, whether it is after you discuss your options with your doctor or during the actual labor and delivery process. Because the labor and delivery process can indeed be an unpredictable one, you may want to have a second section added to your birth plan outlining your wishes should something unexpected occur, causing you to deviate from the plan.

Instead of having just a single birth plan that has been outlined for an uncomplicated delivery, you may want to break your birth plan down into two separate sections. One section that addresses your wishes during an uncomplicated delivery with few surprises and one section that addresses how you wish things to be handled should the delivery become complicated or should the actual experience have to stray from the initial plan that you had implemented. The more prepared you are, the less stress you are likely to experience during labor and delivery. Your birth plan is the road map that will help you, your doctor, and others who are involved prepare for the delivery of your new baby. You want to make sure you accommodate for any “detours” that may occur when creating this roadmap so that you can reduce any stress that you may experience in the delivery room.


Share your Thoughts
  • ose

    The left side of my bum is so painful and I get sharp pain from my lower abdomen straight Into my virginal and my bum what does this mean please. I find the birth plan lovely.

  • Saniyyah Ayesha Hasan

    I keep forgetting about making a birthing plan…main thing how to really start