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How to Write a Birth Plan and Birth Plan Printable
How to Write a Birth Plan
What is a Birth Plan?
A birth plan is a written document created by a pregnant woman when she is nearing labor and delivery. It is designed to let doctors and hospital staff know what the pregnant woman wishes to happen during her labor, delivery, and recovery.
Why should you think about writing a birth plan? With so many options today of how your labor, delivery, and recovery will occur, it's good to start thinking ahead of the options that you personally prefer. Plus, chances are during labor you may not feel like talking much or discussing your options, so having a plan written out can help communicate your wishes without having to disturb you as you concentrate on managing your contractions and delivering your baby.
Here you'll find:
- suggestions about how to begin writing a birth plan,
- options that may be available to you,
- and a PRINTABLE birth plan template.
Birth Plan for Labor
Will you write or did you write a birth plan?
How to Write a Birth Plan
Since a birth plan includes everything you wish to happen during your labor, delivery, and recovery, you'll need to gather some information about what happens during labor, delivery, and recovery.
During the first stage of labor, you're going to be experiencing some pain, discomfort, and possibly anxiety. How are you going to manage these things? Here are some questions to consider:
- Are you going to use medications, a variety of positions, or gadgets to help with the pain and discomfort? If so, which ones?
- What will help you feel less anxious? What can help keep you calm?
- Who is going to be in the room as your coach or just for support? What will be their role?
- Who else will be allowed in the room as you labor? Who is not allowed in the room (i.e. student nurses or other people in training)?
During the delivery, which is part of the second and third stages of labor, you're also likely to feel some pain and discomfort, but you'll also be meeting your baby at the same time. Here are some questions to consider:
- Are you okay with an episiotomy to help the baby come through?
- Does your doctor use forceps or a vacuum extractor to help the baby out? How do you feel about this?
- Do you want the baby to be laid on your belly as the cord is cut?
- Who is going to cut the baby's cord?
- Will you be saving your baby's umbilical cord?
- Do you want to try breastfeeding soon after delivery (barring any complications)?
- Do you want your coach or support person to take pictures or videos as the baby is born?
During your recovery, you'll be healing from your labor and delivery as well as easing into your new role as a mom. Here are some questions to consider:
- If your baby is a boy, will he be circumcised?
- Will you be breastfeeding or formula feeding?
- Would you like the baby to room-in with you or be taken to the nursery when you need to sleep?
- Is the nursery staff permitted to give your baby a pacifier, or formula supplement as needed?
- How long do you think you'll need to stay in the hospital before being discharged?
Of course, many of these items depend on your doctor and hospital policies. For example, my doctor tells me up front that he does not prefer to use forceps or a vacuum extractor on babies, and the hospital where I deliver has its own rooming-in policy. Speak with your doctor during a prenatal visit and contact the hospital for their policies before making final decisions on your birth plan.
Prepare for a C-Section Birth
- How to Prepare for a C-Section or Cesarean Birth
Learn about c-sections and how you can prepare for a c section birth.
Pain Relief During Labor
Here are your pain relief options during labor:
- Natural childbirth: no medications, use different methods to relieve pain
- Epidural or spinal block: medications used to numb the lower half of the body
- Opiates or narcotic medications (Demerol, Stadol, etc.): medications used to dull the pain experienced during labor
Discuss these options with your doctor. What you may end up choosing depends on your pain tolerance level and how far into labor you are.
Here are some options you may choose from to help you with pain and discomfort when you are in labor:
- Moving around or staying in bed/room
- Drinking clear fluids
- Birthing ball
- Birthing stool
- Birthing chair
- Squat bar
- Warm shower or bath (not during pushing)
- Anesthesia, yes or no
Discuss these options with your doctor.
Birth Plan Checklist
Labor and Delivery Room
Here are some options as to what and who can be in your room as you labor:
- Spouse, partner, labor coach, mother(s), etc.: Who is going to witness the birth? Who is permitted to visit with you as you go through the first stage of labor?
- Students in training: Will they be allowed to view the birth or offer assistance?
- Quiet or music: Do you need silence or some quiet music to concentrate?
- Lights: Would you like the lights dimmed?
- Pictures or video: Who is permitted to take pictures or video? Of what can they take pictures or video?
- Focal point or object: What will be your focal point, or what object will you bring to focus on during contractions?
How to Help Labor Progress
- How to Help a Pregnant Woman's Labor Progress
Learn about going into labor and how someone can help you with the progress
Delivering a Baby
Here are some options to consider as your baby is being delivered:
- Mirror or feeling the head for vaginal delivery: Do you want to see or feel your baby coming out?
- Baby on belly as cord is being cut: Do you want your baby placed on your belly as the cord is being cut and he/she is being cleaned off?
- See the baby before eye drops are given: Do you want to look into your baby's eyes before the eye drops (antibiotics given to babies to prevent infections) are given?
- Bringing baby to the nursery: If you have a c-section, who do you want to accompany the baby to the nursery?
- Holding baby in recovery: If you have a c-section, do you want to hold your baby while you are in recovery?
Do Doctors Need to Follow Birth Plans?
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Birth Plan Template
Here's an example of what a birth plan could look like:
Doctor or Midwife:________________
I understand that at any time things may change to ensure the safety and health of the baby and I, but I would like to see the following happen if at all possible.
I prefer the following:
- ____To move during labor
- ____To use a (circle: birthing ball, birthing stool, squat bar, birthing chair)
- ____To have the following people in my room as I labor: ______________
- ____To limit who else is in the room (students in training, visitors, etc.)
- ____To use the following medications for pain:_____________________
- ____To NOT use any medication for pain
- ____To have the lights dimmed
- ____To have the room silent
- ____To play some quiet music
I prefer the following:
- ____To have the following people with me as I deliver
- ____To have _________________ take pictures or video
- ____To have/not have an episiotomy if it is deemed necessary
- ____To have a mirror to see the birth of my baby
- ____To feel my baby's head as he/she crowns
- ____To have the baby placed on my belly
- ____To have ______________ cut the baby's cord
- ____To have the cord blood saved (I have made prior arrangements)
- ____To breastfeed as soon as possible
I prefer the following:
- ____To have the baby room-in with me
- ____To have the baby stay in the nursery when I am sleeping
- ____To (circle one:) breastfeed, bottle feed, both
- ____To move around soon after giving birth (as long as I am healthy)
(Note: This may be copied into a document for personal use. Add or subtract items as you see fit. This may NOT be copied onto another website or anywhere else online or in print.)
Printable Birth Plan Template
- Birth Plan Template
Print out your own Birth Plan. For personal use only. Not to be copied by other websites.
When to Write a Birth Plan
Around 30 weeks, you should begin to think about what you'd like to include in your birth plan. Once you decide, write a rough draft of it and schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss what he or she supports or would otherwise suggest. You may also want to do the same with the hospital staff if you know where you will be delivering. Once you have the final copy, place it and several extra copies with your hospital bag during your final weeks of pregnancy.
Remember that your birth plan may not be set in stone. Complications could arise that are unforeseen and may require quick thinking on the part of your doctor or the hospital staff. You must not get upset when things need to change. Everyone's top priority is the health and safety of you and the baby.
Begin now to research what you may want to include in your birth plan. By doing all of this, you are preparing yourself for every possible outcome that may occur during your labor and delivery.
Best wishes for a safe and healthy labor and delivery!
For more information about pregnancy and babies, visit my profile here.