12 Essential Questions You Need to Answer to Compile Your Birth Plan
There are a lot of decisions to be made about childbirth. A birth plan is a preconceived proposal for how you and your partner prefer the birth of your child to be handled. A birth plan is a document that is short and concise but can be as detailed as you desire.
Work with your support team when writing a birth plan
When compiling your birth plan, discover all the options and talk over your preferences with your partner. Consult your healthcare provider to find out what his/her standard procedures are. Give a copy of the birth plan to your healthcare provider as well as anyone who will be in the delivery room with you, such as a labor coach, doula, or other relative. You should pack a copy in your hospital bag, too, just in case your doctor isn’t available when you go into labor.
To start compiling your birth plan, ask yourself these 12 essential questions:
1. Where do you want to deliver your baby? The atmosphere varies widely for laboring women depending on where you choose to have your baby. You can choose to deliver at a hospital, a birthing center, or even at your own home. Before your due date, arrange to have a tour of the facility (or several if you want options!) and choose what resonates best with you.
2. Who do you want allowed in the room? Would you like your relatives or older children in the room during childbirth? Do you want anyone excluded?
3. What kind of pain control do you prefer? Some women definitely want an epidural. Others want to try delivering naturally before turning to any type of medical intervention.
4. What kind of positions do you want to labor in? Are you interested in trying various positions during labor contractions, such as laboring in a bathtub, on your hands and knees, on a birth ball, or lying in a bed? Some hospitals make accommodations for this, while others have strict policies about staying in bed so it’s best to find out before labor contractions begin.
5. Are you okay with fetal monitoring? Typically performed by placing sensors over mother’s belly held by elastic bands, fetal monitoring measures your baby’s heart rate and is especially useful during high-risk pregnancies. While fetal monitoring can be done during pregnancy, it can also measure frequency and duration of labor contractions during labor.
6. Would you like mirrors during labor so you can see your baby? Sometimes seeing the baby crown helps mothers know when to push.
7. Would your partner like to cut the umbilical cord? Hey, it’s a way for a new father to feel involved in the birth of his child.
8. Any special requests if you need to have a Cesarean delivery? An emergency C-section is rarely anticipated, but keep that option open in case your healthcare provider feels it is needed during labor.
9. Do you want to have the freedom to walk around during labor or sip liquids?
10. How do you feel about an episiotomy? No longer routine like they used to be, an episiotomy is a surgical incision made in the perineum (the tissue between the vagina and anus) to make the vaginal opening larger.
11. Would you like baby to be cleaned before holding him/her or would you like to have skin-to-skin immediately? The benefits of skin-to-skin, or kangaroo care, are unquestionable. It is done by simply placing a naked or diapered baby directly on the skin of mother to encourage breastfeeding and early bonding.
12. Do you want to try breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby?
Be prepared for deviation from your birth plan
Every childbirth experience is unique and has a different set of circumstances than any other, so don’t be discouraged if things don’t go according to plan. For example, your healthcare provider may need to make decisions during labor that are contrary to your birth plan but that are in the best interest for you and/or your baby.
Compiling your birth plan is not necessary to have a baby, but can help guide labor during emotionally and physically intense moments when you may not be able to focus. But plan ahead – sometimes babies come early!
What helped you feel best prepared for childbirth?