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How to Create a Birth Plan


By the third trimester, most women have done their research about pregnancy, birthing, breastfeeding, and baby care. Some women fear the process of labor and seek to make it as natural and comfortable as possible. As with any physiologic process, labor can range from completely normal, somewhat difficult, complicated, to downright scary. There are many hospital policies that determine the level of care needed for the labor and delivery process. Your physician may have some preferences to safeguard the process. In the end, everyone wants a successful delivery and healthy baby. Your input is valuable and that is the reason many women develop a Birth Plan.

What is a birth plan?

A birth plan is a written list of your labor and delivery preferences as it relates to hospital procedures, your medical care, and newborn care. It is not an absolute playbook, but it is useful for everyone to be on the same page as to your wishes. Keep in mind that flexibility is key because we cannot predict the future or control Mother Nature.

Labor is spontaneous in most cases, and birth plans work fairly well in those circumstances. However, for the induction of labor or Cesarean section, a birth plan has limited utility except as it pertains to the care of the newborn.

The easiest way to make a birth plan is to research pregnancy websites for templates. This will provide you with all the information you need to make your preferences known. It’s best to talk to your healthcare provider to find out which birthing center or hospital they work with on a regular basis.

Creating a birth plan

Keep the birth plan short with bullet points and short sentences.

Start with:

  • Name
  • Estimated date of confinement
  • Doctor’s name and contact information
  • Hospital or birth center
  • Names of people attending the labor and delivery process
  • Medical issues or problems with the current pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes
  • Positions you would like to try
  • Pain control such as IV drugs or epidurals (if you want an epidural, you need an IV)
  • Dietary needs
  • IVs (saline lock or infusion)
  • If your water can be artificially broken
  • Fetal monitoring (external vs Internal)
  • What if your labor stops? Medications to augment or induce the contractions
  • Do you want residents or students in the room
  • Do you want to walk around, sit, use a birthing ball
  • Attire: your own or hospital gown
  • Vacuum or forceps

Types of birth requests

  • Number of people and who can be present for the actual birth
  • Episiotomy or spontaneous tearing
  • Filming or picture preferences
  • Cord clamping timing
  • Who cuts the cord?
  • Cord blood donation or collection for storage
  • Baby on belly
  • Can baby go to nursery or do you want in room at all times

What to do with your birth plan?

  1. Make copies for the doctor and the office will send it with your prenatal record
  2. Put a copy in your hospital bag

Conclusion

The birthing plan is a list of preferences that your doctor will try to implement as long as the baby and you are stable. Sometimes, emergencies occur which make the birth plan dispensable. Examples include fetal distress, failure to progress, and postpartum bleeding. That is why most doctors and hospitals want you to have an IV, but it can be capped off and not running fluid, unless needed. The reason is that during an emergency, it is harder to place an IV and if you are dehydrated, even harder than usual. Most doctors believe the benefits of the IV outweigh any inconvenience or discomfort.

Key takeaways

A birth plan is a written list of your labor and delivery preferences.

The easiest way to make a birth plan is to research pregnancy websites for templates.

Keep the birth plan short with bullet points and short sentences.

Make copies for the doctor and the office will send it with your prenatal record, and put a copy in your hospital bag.

Sometimes, emergencies occur which make the birth plan dispensable.

Resources:

Mayo Clinic. Childbirth classes: Get ready for labor and delivery.

Mayo Clinic. Episiotomy: When it's needed, when it's not.

Mayo Clinic. Labor induction.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 2016). Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month to Month.

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