Pregnancy is a very emotional time for new parents.
The birth of a child is a big life event that brings joy and happiness but also stress and anxiety especially when it is your first baby.
As a result, many couples struggle to prepare for the arrival of their newborn or simply feel overwhelmed with all the things they are supposed to think of.
Some of them include choosing the right hospital, deciding on the type of delivery (vaginal or cesarean), and finding out whether you want to breastfeed or give your baby formula.
I know I was all over the place and reading up on a lot of stuff when I was pregnant with my first kid.
It feels so unreal for the longest time that you are really about to have a baby in a few months and can be really overwhelming at first.
It is ok though and get’s better the further you get along – at least that is how I felt.
But don’t worry, a lot of things about your birth experience can be covered by creating a birth plan.
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What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is an agreement between you and your healthcare provider about what will happen during labor, delivery, and the postpartum period.
It can be as detailed or simple as you want it to be. (Sometimes less is more)
So basically a birth plan is a document outlining what you want from childbirth and includes information about your preferences for pain relief, labor positions, birthing practices, and postnatal care.
It may include things like:
• Your preferred type of delivery (natural, cesarean section, or homebirth)
• The number of people who will attend the birth
• Whether you would prefer to have a midwife or doctor present at the birth
• How much support you want or need during labor and delivery
• If you would like to breastfeed after giving birth
• Any special requests such as the use of certain pain relievers or other medications
Birth plans are not mandatory, but there are some benefits to writing one.
For example, if you do decide to write a birth plan, it can help you stay calm and focused during labor and delivery.
Depending on how much you cover in your birth plan you don’t even have to worry about any decisions that might come up during childbirth and can fully focus on staying as relaxed as possible before your baby is born.
Why should you write a Birth Plan?
A birth plan can simply give you more peace of mind during a potentially stressful time when you are in labor by making sure everyone involved in the process of you giving birth knows ahead of time what your wishes are and how to proceed during labor.
It just makes the whole childbirth process less stressful for you.
Especially when it is your first baby and you do not know what to expect from giving birth yet it can be a great idea to write your own birth plan or have your healthcare provider help you with it to set realistic expectations.
This might also be interesting for you:
– Cervical cerclage – how to prevent preterm birth
– Signs of being in labor
– Must haves for your baby nursery
– Baby name collection
When should you create a Birth Plan?
You can start writing your birth plan as early as you want to at any point during your pregnancy.
The best time to be completely done with it is obviously before you go into labor.
Personally, I think it’s best to have the birth plan completely ready and printed out by the time you start packing your hospital bag which I did around 32-33 weeks of pregnancy when the time to meet your new baby gets closer and closer.
You do not want to start too late and then end up with a half-written or not very well thought through birth plan in case your baby comes a bit earlier.
So you should probably do your research and start writing your personal birth plan once you hit about 30 weeks of pregnancy.
What information should you include in your birth plan?
A birth plan will help you decide what information you want to share with medical staff during labor and delivery.
It may also cover what you would like done if you become pregnant again.
Here are some examples of what your birth plan can include:
– Doula or midwife name (or doctor)
– who you want present at birth (birth partner)
– pain medication management (Or if you want childbirth without drugs)
– What medical procedures you absolutely do not want
– backup plan (for example if you want natural but it ends up being a C-section)
– What happens to the baby after delivery (newborn care)
– how you want to feed (breastmilk or formula)
– if the umbilical cord clamping should be delayed
– how you want to deliver (vaginal delivery or c-section)
– Method of delivery for example water birth, natural birth
– Surroundings during labor (can be as detailed as what music you want to listen to during labor)
– Worst case decision power (In case someone has to make a medical decision for you)
– Where you cant to give birth (Birthing center or hospital)
– any existing medical condition
– allergies to medications
– If the hospital is a teaching hospital you can also include if it is ok for students to attend your birth
– special breathing techniques
– Newborn procedure (you can opt-out of shots)
– If you want cord blood banking
– active labor birthing positions (no, you do not have to be on your back)
These are just a few ideas – you can include whatever you can think of.
Your birth plan can be as detailed as you want but it might be a good idea to keep it simple.
How to create a Birth Plan
There is really not much to writing your own birth plan.
You can choose to use a template like the following one you can download for free and fill in however you prefer or you can design your own which can be a simple list of things you wish during labor and delivery and after.
In general you want to split your birth plan into different sections including:
Requests during labor
Here you may include information like what positions you want during labor, whether you want a natural or C-section, and if you want pain relief.
Some hospitals will ask you to fill out a birth plan before admission, so it’s important to know ahead of time what you want.
Request during the birthing process
This section may include things like preferences for pain relief, whether you want to eat during labor, and if you want to have your partner to help catch the baby.
Don’t worry – you can always change your mind as you go if it is not too late (for example pain relief – if you don’t want any but then change your mind you can still get an epidural if it is not too late)
Request for after delivery
Here you can voice your wishes for right after your baby is born this could include things like if you want to hold the baby right away and if you want to breastfeed right after birth.
Requests for newborn care after birth
This section covers everything that you want to happen with your newborn baby.
That might be denying a shot, let the doctors check the baby first before you get to hold it, and anything else involving the baby.
This might also be interesting for you:
– What you really need in your hospital bag (with free checklist)
– Cost of childbirth in the US
– Breastfeeding must-haves for new moms
– Funny pregnancy stories told by moms
– Smart snacks for your hospital bag
Birth plan template for first time mothers
This template for a birth plan includes any important information you may need in the hospital and is very simple with checkboxes.
There is also space for your own additions and it comes in blue and pink.
This birth plan template is completely free for you to download and use as needed and comes in a pdf format.
Using a template makes writing your own birth plan even easier and less stressful.
Download the birth plan template here by clicking on the picture:
Should someone review your Birth Plan?
It depends on who you ask.
Some people think it’s important to review your birth plan with your doctor before labor begins; others say it’s not necessary.
If you decide to share your birth plan with your caregiver, it’s best to let them know what you want beforehand so they don’t feel blindsided by any changes during delivery.
It can definitely be a good idea to let your doctor look over your birth plan to make sure you go into labor and delivery with realistic expectations on what can and can’t be done.
What if my partner and/or doctor don’t agree with any of my requests?
If you want to make sure your wishes are carried out, it’s important to discuss them with your healthcare team before giving birth.
It may not always be possible to achieve what you want, but having a discussion will give you peace of mind.
Discussing your wishes with your partner should still happen so they know what you want and can be educated in all matters child birth as well.
After all, if your partner doesn’t agree with certain decisions – it is still your body so you have the decision power.
What if I change my mind about what’s in my birth plan?
It’s important to write down all of your preferences before labor begins so that you don’t feel rushed into making decisions during the process that you may regret later.
If you decide to change your mind, it’s best to discuss this with your doctor beforehand but you can still make changes as you go or however the situation needs a different decision. (If you download my template you will see checkboxes that give room for doctors decisions if they are in the best interest for you or the baby in specific situation that you can check)
Even if you have your whole birth planned out with the birth plan always keep in mind that things can go different.
No birth is the same and in reality, the experience can end up completely different than you wish it would be – not to rain on your parade, this is just being realistic.
There can always be complications for either baby or mom or both and in some cases, you may end up with a C-section even though you had that big plan on going full natural.
Things happen and it’s ok.
In the end, we all just want a healthy baby and mom.
Did you create a birth plan with your first child? Was there anything you wish you would have thought of?
Let us know in the comments!
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