What’s a birth plan? A birth plan is what you want to happen during your labor and delivery experience. It’s kind of like your vision board for your perfect birth. It’s a good idea to talk to your health care provider to determine what’s feasible for your big day. Remember: Things may change the day of, but your birth plan sets out the expectations for what you want for your experience. As always, prepare to be flexible. It’s important to pick someone who can be a strong advocate for you and your vision, such as a doula or your partner. Also, remember that your birth plan is for you! There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so do what makes sense for you.
You can include basic information, such as your name; your doctor and their contact info; the name of your hospital or birthing center; the type of birth you’re planning; and the name and contact info of any other important people, such as your doula or other members of your birth team. Include any health issues that may affect the birth or baby, such as gestational diabetes.
Next, you’ll want to include any preferences for your labor experience. Think about the atmosphere you’d like to create for yourself, your partner, and your newborn. Do you want music to be playing? Do you want the lights to be dimmed? Do you want someone to take photos and videos of the birth? Do you want to be able to eat and drink during labor? Would you prefer to walk or use a birthing ball? Do you want your labor to be in water? Do you have specific birthing positions you’d like to do? What equipment do you want available (birthing tub, in-room shower, etc.) during your experience?
You can also detail your delivery preferences, such as whether or not you’re comfortable having an episiotomy (unless it’s absolutely necessary); if you’d like a mirror to witness the birth; if you’d like your partner to cut the umbilical cord; or if you’re ok with forceps or vacuum extraction, etc. You might want to detail what your preferences are for pain relief, too, such as an epidural, breathing, massage, acupuncture, etc.
You can also list out your preferences for baby care, such as if you’d like your baby in the hospital room with you primarily or whether you’d like them to stay in the nursery sometimes. You can also note your preferences for breastfeeding versus bottle feeding, cord blood banking, the placenta, and circumcision.
It’s a good idea to review your birth plan with your partner and birth team prior to labor and delivery so that you can resolve any issues. Once finalized, make copies, and give them to your doctor, your birth team, and add extras to your hospital bag. And then get ready for your big day!
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