A birth plan is a statement of what you want in labor, during birth and during your hospital stay. Thinking about what you want and writing your plan will help you focus on your desires for the birth of your child. Give copies to your doctor or midwife, the hospital and your coach. Pack an extra copy in you bag for the hospital. Remember that everything may not go according to plan and be flexible in the event something unexpected should come up.
Who will be in the room? You may decide you want only your partner present for the birth. You may decide to invite your other children, family or friends into the room. This should be spelled out in your plan.
Eating or Drinking:
Write out what you want in terms of food and beverage. You may want water or be content with only ice chips. Many hospitals discourage food in the event something should go wrong and you would need anesthesia.
Relaxation in Labor:
Do you want to spend time in the water? Will you bring relaxation tapes or soft music? Consider massage or any other relaxation techniques that may help you during labor.
Movement in Labor:
Do you want freedom of movement? Write out your wishes for walking, squatting, lying down or being on your hands and knees during labor. Include information about positions you would like to try during delivery as well.
Your basic choices here are to avoid an IV, have a heparin lock in case you need an IV medication quickly or have a constant IV line. In many cases, if you take medication, you will need an IV.
Pain Relief Options:
Spell out if you are interested in pain relief medication. You may choose IV medications, such as Demerol or an epidural. If you want to avoid medication, spell this out too. Do you want to be offered medication or have it given only when you ask for it?
Do you want continuous fetal monitoring or intermittent monitoring throughout labor? Include information about external or internal monitoring. If internal monitoring is needed in an emergency, acknowledge that, but spell out that it is to be used only if needed.
Do you want your water broken to stimulate labor, or would you rather wait? Write out when and under what circumstances you would like your water broken.
There are many methods that can be used to stimulate labor, including nipple stimulation, walking, vaginal creams or pitocin. Include information about which methods you’d like to try and in what order. If you want to avoid pitocin, spell this out in your plan.
How do you feel about an episiotomy? Do you want to avoid it, have one as needed, or would you prefer to tear naturally?
Do you want regular exams to keep track of your progress? If you’d rather keep them to a minimum, include this information in your plan.
Interventions During Delivery:
If the baby is having trouble coming out, how do you feel about forceps or vacuum extraction? If you prefer one over the other, include this information.
Recording the Blessed Event:
Do you plan to take pictures during labor and delivery? Would you rather have the moment recorded after the baby is born?
Include a Section about C Sections:
In the event you may need a c section, write your preferences. What do you want for anesthesia? Do you want your partner present? Ask that the baby be given to your partner immediately after the birth. If you want to watch the birth, you can ask for the curtain to be lowered, allowing you to see.
Cutting the Cord:
Your basic choices here are: you, your partner or the doctor can cut the cord. Keep in mind that in an emergency, the doctor will need to do the honors.
Interventions After Birth:
Eye drops and the vitamin K shot can sometimes be delayed until some bonding time has passed. You can even include things like you’d prefer the baby be bathed and weighed after you have had a chance to hold or breastfeed the baby.
Holding the Baby:
Should the baby be given to your partner, or placed on your stomach? Ask that the initial evaluation and cleaning be done on the bed, rather than the baby being taken away, if this is your preference.
Separation from Baby:
Do you want rooming in, where the baby is kept in your room night and day? Your other options are rooming in during the day and in the nursery at night or full time nursery care. With this option, the baby is kept in the nursery and brought to you for feedings.
Will you be breastfeeding or using formula? If you are breastfeeding, spell out your wishes regarding supplemental bottles or pacifiers.
If you are having a boy, include information about circumcision. If the baby will be circumcised, do you want anesthesia used? Do you want to be there for the circumcision?