How to make a birth plan
If you're wondering what makes up a birth plan, here's our guide to creating your own birth plan, what to include, and why.
What's a birth plan?
A birth plan is a comprehensive plan of your preferences during labor and delivery related to your birthing environment, birthing positions, and post-birth plans. These preferences are usually what you would like communicated to the providers who will be participating in your care during the birthing process.
Your birth plan could include simple things such as how you’d like the lighting or temperature in your birthing suite to more serious factors like who you want with you as you’re in labor. Knowing what to include in your birth plan can feel overwhelming, so let’s review how to create a birth plan that fits your needs.
Why should I make a birth plan?
Birth planning can help you make key decisions about what you’d like to happen during your labor and delivery and can outline alternative plans if your original wishes cannot be fulfilled.
For those who are pregnant, this type of planning can not only help you feel organized before delivery, but it can help resolve some of your anxieties leading up to the birth. Finally, a birth plan can help you think through some of the logistics and processes that you may not have even considered.prenatal-multi-dha
What should I include in my birth plan?
Your birth plan can have a number of different parts to address various factors during your birth. At a minimum, your birth plan should include the essentials, such as the name of your doctor, key contact numbers, the hospital in which you plan to give birth, and who you’d like to have in the room during labor and delivery.
If this information is already clear and known, other things included in a birth plan can include any preferences that you feel will aid in helping create as close to the experience you desire. There are a number of factors and other important details to consider for your birth plan. A few to consider are:
Just because a hospital room is sterile doesn’t mean it has to be a cold and uninviting place to give birth. Think about the atmosphere in which you're most relaxed. What does your ideal space feel and look like? Are the lights dim or bright? Do you want calming music or silence?
There are many ways in which this environment can be created such as bringing battery-powered light candles with you, using a scent diffuser if allowed, or displaying an artificial fireplace on the room television. Talk to your health care provider and see what type of environment you all can create together for your labor and delivery.
It’s possible that you’re going to have to change birthing positions during your labor and delivery. Some options are curling in a fetal-like position on your side, being seated or semi-seated, or squatting. Squatting can be particularly helpful as the baby is making its way down in your pelvis to get into position before birth.
You may have heard about different tools to enable birthing poses like a birthing stool, chair, ball, or bar. These tools are used to help facilitate different positions, and you may use multiple tools or positions at various points throughout your delivery.
When you are practicing these positions, you won’t need to practice pushing. Simply hold the position for about a minute (usually through one or two contractions) to see how it feels. Also, note which tools help you feel comfortable getting in and out of these positions and during contractions, such as a formation of multiple pillows.
There are a variety of medications that can help ease the pain during childbirth. An epidural nerve block is an injection that can alleviate lower body pain via a catheter injection in the area outside the spinal cord and lower back. It does not cause drowsiness or slow down labor.
Some opt to use opioids, which can quickly decrease pain after ingesting orally, but they do not completely eliminate pain during delivery. Other people opt out of pain medication completely. Be sure to discuss options with your doctor as the length of duration of the pain medication, and the overall health status of the baby can at times play a large role in determining the best option for you and your birth.
You can engage with your childbirth in a variety of ways. Do you want a mirror so you can watch your childbirth? Do you want your partner or another family member to cut the umbilical cord? If the gender of the baby is a surprise do you want to be the person who announces it? Do you want to hold your child immediately after giving birth for skin-to-skin contact? These details can lead to important moments that you and your family can cherish forever.
After delivery, there are additional factors to consider, such as where you want your baby to sleep after birth and how you plan to feed your baby. Would you like to breastfeed immediately or mix breastfeeding with bottle feeding? Do you want your baby with you in the room at all times or would you like your baby to go to the nursery? If your baby is born with a penis, would you like for your baby to be circumcised?
If you are a first-time parent, you might not know about all the details you are required to think about, so talk to your health care provider or those close to you who have given birth for more to consider.
Other labor and delivery considerations
Something to communicate to your friends and family is your documentation desires. Would you like one of your family members to take photos or videos of the birth? Or do you explicitly want no photos? Make sure these needs are known to those supporting you during your labor and delivery.
After you’ve created your birth plan
Once you’ve made these decisions and detailed them, share a copy with your physician and those you plan to have in the room with you. It’s important to remember that your birth plan is a plan, and it may not necessarily go as you planned. It’s great to note your preferences, but try to go with the flow and listen to your doctor's recommendations if something needs to change before or during your labor.