Benefits of having a birth plan and what you should include in it
As a pregnant woman, now is the time in your life that you really have to assert yourself. It is up to you to make choices that affect not only your life, but your baby’s life as well. The first decisions you will make for your child often revolve around how he/she will be brought into the world. This is why preparing a birth plan is vital. It lays out exactly how you wish to be taken care of while you are doing your motherly duty of delivering your child. Whether you prefer to go as natural as possible, or wish to rely heavily on medical technology, it’s important that your doctor and nursing staff know exactly where you stand on treatment before it comes time to take your trip to the maternity ward.
Make sure you have plenty of copies of your birth plan to give to your doctor, nurses, family, and also have some lying around the house in case you have to call an ambulance for transport.
What should you include in your birth plan?
Name of spouse, significant other, domestic partner, whatever… include their name on the document, as well. If you are unable to be reached in a time of distress (by that I mean if you are too busy screaming bloody murder to answer a nurse’s question), this will be the person they go to for answers that you may not have included. This is also why it is important to have good communication between you and your partner on what your wishes are.
Your due date, your doctor’s name, and the hospital that you are supposed to deliver in. This information will come in especially handy if you go into labor unexpectedly and have to be transported via ambulance in a hurry.
Any conditions that you have that are relevant to pregnancy. Such conditions include if you have a blood type that is Rh negative. (i.e., your blood type is A-, B-, O-….), if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, have group B strep, etc.
The method of labor that you have planned. While most deliveries are the typical vaginal kind, some women are set to have a c-section on a certain date because of the position of their baby or other complications. Maybe you were planning on a home birth, or you might be having a vaginal birth after c-section. If you have very strong feelings about cesarean and would only like to have it in the case of a dire emergency, make sure you include this information.
List of people that you would like to have in the delivery room with you. Include their names and their relation to you. This will ensure that no one you don’t want in the delivery room manages to slip in. Also, if it is necessary, make a list of the people that you absolutely under no condition want to be around you during this time. Perhaps you have a restraining order against someone and you’re afraid they’ll show up. (If you do, you’re probably part of my family! Haha. Sorry… it’s actually more sad than funny.) Perhaps you can find a big buff friend to stand outside your door and deflect intruders.
Information regarding the amenities you would like to receive during labor. Now is the time to be a diva and decide exactly what you would like to have in your room. Would you like some soft music playing, dim lights? Do you want your spouse to be able to take pictures of the event? Would you like to wear your own clothes instead of the hospital gown?
If you are against being induced by medicinal means, painkillers, epidurals, IV’s, etc., make sure you mention this. It is important to have this information in black and white because odds are, the staff will wait until you are at your breaking point to offer you an epidural, and if you accept it in your moment of weakness, you may feel disappointed in yourself afterward because you had planned on going totally natural. If you are open to any means of pain relief such as epidurals, acupressure, hypnosis, etc, include that on your birth plan as well.
Would you like a mirror placed at your cervix during delivery so that you can see the action? Maybe you would like to touch the baby’s head as it crowns, for that extra affirmation. Perhaps you want to help catch the baby, or have your partner do it. Would you rather the doctor hand you the baby right away, or do you want him/her to be cleaned off a little bit first?
Your plans for baby’s cord blood, if this is something you have been planning. You may want to bank it, or have it donated.
What you want to do in the instance that your child is not well at time of delivery. Perhaps you want to stay with them in the hospital at all times, or maybe you want to transfer him/her to another facility.
Also include your desires on circumcision (if it’s a boy), what treatment you will allow for baby (do you want them to be given formula, vitamin K, a pacifier?), any medications you would like to have post-delivery, and how soon you will allow company in your room, etc.
There are many resources on the internet that offer templates for birth plans. These are convenient because most of them are offered in a check-list type format, and you may see options that you did not know about before.
Here is a template from one of my favorite baby forums, The Bump. http://pregnant.thebump.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-tools/articles/tool-birth-plan.aspx
It is important to remember that labor and delivery may not go exactly the way you dreamed. Due to unforeseen circumstances, you may end up having to take treatment that you were previously very set against. Keep your eye on the prize, and do whatever you can to ensure that you delivery a happy, healthy baby.