What Exactly Is A Birth Plan/Why Is It Used?
A birth plan is a form that expectant mothers fill out prior to giving birth to their child in order to communicate their wishes to the midwives or doctors who will be taking care of them while they are giving birth to their child. This plan, usually part of your third trimester checklist, should provide the midwife and doctor(s) that will be caring for you as a patient with all of the basic information they will need to ensure the care you receive is in accordance with your wishes.
You can talk to your midwife or other healthcare providers about the procedures used during delivery as you inquire what your options are. Learning more about these options will help you determine what type of delivery and what types of treatment are available to you as a first-time expectant mother. You can write the actual birth plan yourself, or your midwife or other healthcare providers can help. This help can be especially helpful if this is your first child and you have never filled out a birth plan before.
What Information Will I Have to Provide On My Birth Plan?
The information requested by various hospitals will vary, however, most standard birth forms will request similar information. The following is some of the information you can expect to provide when filling out your birth plan:
- who your birth partner will be along with who else you want in the room and how long you want them to remain in the room (Do you want just your partner, your mom, your friends, a photographer, the paparazzi?)
- your preferred positions while you go into labor and give birth - what is most comfortable for you personally (birth bar, squat, water tub?)
- pain relief methods if any that are preferred such as preferring a dose of pethidine before getting an epidural or if you want no pain relief at all
- how long you want to be in labor before you would want help speeding up the labor process
- if you desire to use a birth pool if your hospital or birthing center has such an option available to mothers while they are in labor
- other equipment you wish for the doctors to use or not use including facility equipment such as birthing balls, mats, bean bags, etc. or if you will want extra pillows or blankets or a wider bed for comfort --- including anything you will bring from home that you may want them to use
- your doctor will measure your baby's heart rate every 15 minutes during your labor, however, if you want something more continuous, consider asking for continuous electronic monitoring (EFM) devices which constantly measure your baby's heart rate through a belt put around your waist during labor
- any sort of assisting devices healthcare providers may use to help you birthing the baby (i.e. forceps, etc.)
- request your baby to be placed in your chest for skin-to-skin contact after birth once their health is stable if you so desire
- make clear how you want your baby fed via bottle, breastmilk, etc. once they are born (do you want a lactation specialist to visit you and offer breastfeeding tips)
- explain how any unexpected circumstances should be handled that could possibly arise during you giving birth
- when do you prefer they bathe your baby (shall you keep the vernix on for longer?)
- cord blood banking (donation, bank, or dispose?)
- what to do with the placenta
- delayed umbilical cord cutting
Lots to think about! These are just some basics you will be asked to provide. Some forms may be more or less detailed based on the facility you are giving birth at or the form that you are filling out.
Talk To Your Partner:
Equally important to talking to your healthcare providers is talking to your family who you want to be there, or who choose to be there during the actual birthing procedure. Inform your partner of all pertinent information which you have included in the birth plan so they understand how things will go during the procedure.
Keep in mind that the birth plan reflects your personal choices, however, it will be helpful for your partner to understand what you have chosen and why, so they are more comfortable assuming they will be present for your child's delivery.
In the end, be sure to make those closest to you including healthcare professionals and your partner aware of your desires. If they know then they can make the best decisions to help you have the birth experience you desire when you are in labor.