As an expecting mother, you should be aware (and accepting) that nothing might go as planned during pregnancy, delivery, as well as after baby’s birth. However, this does not mean that you should not be prepared in advance.
A birth plan is something you prepare by talking to your doctor and spouse/partner. It is a list of your choices for the things you might go through before, during or after the delivery. Use of this list is more important than its content. It would not work out if you make this plan on your own, put it aside and no one knows about it. It is important that you share this list with your spouse (partner), your family members, your doctor as well as the nurses that will be working during labor.
Have two copies of this list. Put one list in your hospital bag and give the other copy to the person who will be with you during delivery. Make sure to have the phone numbers of people whom you wish to call when going into delivery. It might be useful to print out the “What doctors and nurses need to know”section and hang it somewhere in the delivery room where they can see it.
Before the delivery:
- Do you want TV, music or any other sound in the room?
- What will you do to deal with the contractions? For example: Yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, massage, hot bath.
- People whom you would like to be present during labor.
- Natural, Cesarean section, at home, in water, etc. (You will decide on this depending on your and your baby’s health. Sometimes even if you want a natural birth, with last minute changes, you might have to deliver by C-section. Expect things to change at any moment.)
- Pain relievers and anesthetics
- Natural birth a) Without pain relievers and anesthetics b) Epidural c) Pain reliever
- C section a) Epidural b) General Anesthetics
- Though it is a tough decision, would you want an episiotomy? Should the doctor make this decision on his own or should he ask you at that time?
- If needed, do you want forceps or vacuum to be used to pull the baby out? Should the doctor make this decision or should he ask you at that time?
- People you would want to be present during your labor.
- The name of the person who will cut the umbilical cord.
- Your doctor might ask you whether you would like a mirror to watch the labor.
- Do you want pictures taken or would you like the labor to be taped?
- Would you like to hold the baby right after delivery or would you like to hold it after he/she has had her physical and measurements done?
- Would you like to breastfeed your baby in the first hour or is it okay to feed bottle-feed the baby?
- Is the baby going to spend the night in your room? Is it okay if the baby spends the night in the nursery?
- If the baby is going to spend the night in the nursery, would you like the baby to be brought to you to breastfeed or should the baby be bottle fed?
- Would you like a pacifier be given to the baby?
- If your baby is male, would you like him to be circumcised?
- Would you like to put on clothes provided by the hospital or would you prefer to dress him/her your own clothes?
With this list handy, whatever that might happen, in the middle of all this action and excitement; you would not have to explain so many things to so many people. More importantly, it would be great if the nurses, in addition to your doctor who will take care of you and your baby know your preferences ahead of time, then it will not be up to their discretion to give the baby a pacifier or feed the baby with a bottle or bring the baby to you. This way you won’t have to get upset or frustrated.
You can find various worksheets and templates when you google keywords “birth plan”.