A birth plan is a helpful tool for expecting parents to have a smooth delivery by outlining their preferences and wishes for labor and delivery. It serves as a means of communication between the parents and their healthcare provider, ensuring that the parent’s preferences are acknowledged and respected during the birth process.
The following are some guidelines you might use while creating a birth plan:
- Research It is important to gain knowledge and understanding of the various choices available for labor and delivery, which may include different phases of labor, pain management methods, and medical procedures.
- Reflect on what is meaningful to you in the birthing experience and write down the important aspects that you and your partner want to consider in the birth plan.
- Decide the format of the plan which can either be from the various templates available online or create one from scratch according to your preference.
- Include the following details in your birth plan:
- Where you want to give birth: such as a hospital, birthing center, or at home. It is important to consult with your healthcare provider and weigh the risks and benefits before making a decision on the place of birth.
- Who you want to be present during the birth: your partner, family members, friends, or a doula. Remember that you have the right to make the decision on who you want to be present during your birth, and that it is important to communicate your preferences clearly to your healthcare provider and support team.
- Pain management options: such as natural methods (breathing, relaxation), medical options (epidural, gas and air etc)
- Preferred method of monitoring the baby’s heart rate during labor
- Your preferred position during labor and delivery – Your preferred position during labor and delivery can play an important role in the birthing process. Being in the right position can help ease discomfort, reduce the duration of labor and reduce the need for interventions.
- Any specific medical interventions you do or do not want to have, such as induction or a c-section
- Your plans for post-birth, such as breastfeeding or baby care – Your postpartum preparations may involve a number of things, such as how you want to feed the baby and look after it once it is born. Breastfeeding is a crucial part of postpartum care and is advised as the best nutrition source for babies by the WHO.
- However, nursing may be difficult, so it’s critical to have a support network in place and to be knowledgeable about the fundamentals of breastfeeding. There are support groups, lactation consultants, and workshops on breastfeeding available at certain hospitals and birthing facilities.
- Share your birth plan with your healthcare provider and review it together. Ask your provider about their policies on your preferences, any question and their availability during the delivery time.
- Be prepared to adjust: Remember that baby birth can be a very unpredictable series of event, so be open to change and willing to adjust your birth plan as needed.
- Your birth plan should always be with you. Bring the birth plan with you when you go into labor and give copies to your healthcare provider, family members, and the doula accompanying you to the labor room. It should be among the first few items you keep in your Pregnancy Hospital Bag.
It’s also important to keep in mind that unexpected events or complications may occur during labor and delivery, and that your healthcare provider will make decisions based on what is best for you and your baby’s safety in those moments. It can be helpful to have a support person with you, such as a partner, friend, or family member, who can advocate for your preferences and help you make informed decisions if unexpected events arise.
Additionally, it is important to be open to alternative options if the initial plan cannot be followed and to discuss these options with your healthcare provider before delivery. Remember that your birth plan is a guide, not a strict set of rules, and it’s important to be flexible and open to adjustments as needed. Also, read our article Pregnancy Nutrition Myths and Truths.