What is a birth plan? And Why Do I Need One?

birthplan

Pregnancy is a time of expectation and excitement, and you will undoubtedly be making plans for things such as the nursery, baby names, and 1st birthdays. However, it is also very important that you take the time during your pregnancy to develop a birth plan. This plan, while it needs to be flexible, will be your guide during labor and delivery. It will also help your birthing team – doctors, nurses, midwives, partners – understand your needs and preferences, especially during a time when you might have difficulty clearly expressing them. Developing a birth plan is a good way to prepare for labor and delivery, and the process of creating the birth plan can help you address issues you might not have otherwise thought of until you were already in the delivery room.

What Should I Include in My Birth Plan?

For some women a birth plan is an idea in their head about how they want the event to happen. However, an effective birth plan is one you can share with your partner and review with your caregivers prior to labor and delivery. Several of the issues you should consider addressing in your birth plan include:

  • The specific location you wish to be during labor and delivery (hospital, home, other).
  • The names of the people you want present during labor and/or the birth.
  • A list of things that you would like brought with you to the birthing site (music, comfort items, clothing, a picture for your focal point, etc.).

Your birth plan should also represent how you best envision your labor and delivery experience. The following is just intended as a guide for how you can create a birth plan that addresses the details that can make this experience the best possible.

Hospital Procedures

  • I would like to wait until my contractions are 4 minutes apart before I go to the hospital.
  • I would like to be able to freely walk during labor in order to keep labor progressing.
  • I do not have a preference for whether or not medical residents are present during labor and delivery.
  • I would prefer not to have the actual delivery videotaped.
  • I do not want a block for pain, but would like to try a birthing ball and hot water bottles on my back.
  • I prefer continuous monitoring during labor.

Delivery Procedures

  • During delivery I would like the freedom to try different positions – hands and knees, squatting, or whatever I request that is considered safe.
  • I do not want an episiotomy.
  • I would like a mirror available to see my baby’s head as it crowns.

Immediately After Birth Procedures

  • After the baby is delivered I would like to immediately hold him skin to skin.
  • My partner would like to cut the umbilical cord.
  • I would like to breastfeed as soon as possible after birth.
  • I want the baby to remain in my room unless it is medically necessary to take him elsewhere.

Other Procedures and Plans

  • I plan to breastfeed – please do not offer my baby formula or a pacifier.
  • I don’t plan to use a cord blood bank.
  • If there is an emergency that requires a C-section I would like my partner to attend the cesarean section.
  • My partner has the directives for emergency decisions for both me and the baby.

While it might be overwhelming to think of these and other decisions regarding your birth plan, establishing how you hope the occasion will proceed is much better than trying to make those decisions while you are feeling pain and a mix of overwhelming emotions.

 

 

 

Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”