What should I write in my birth plan?
Birth plans are as unique as the mothers that create them. Your birth plan should touch on the medical care you’d like to receive during labor, delivery, and postpartum.
Think about your ideal location for your child’s birth. You may wish to give birth at home, at a birthing center, or in a hospital.
Research the options available in your area, and consider what locations are appropriate for your particular pregnancy. For instance, if you’re a high-risk pregnancy, the safest option is often to deliver at a hospital. If you plan to give birth at home, consider where you might go if your situation changes and you need extra medical attention.
You should also weigh your financial situation. You may have a health benefits plan that covers a portion or all of the costs, or you may not have coverage at all. Find a location that provides the level of medical care you want and need that also works with your budget.
Medical teams and support people
List the names and contact information of your care providers and support people in your birth plan. Your medical team will help you design a birth plan that’s right for you; your support people will advocate for that plan.
Some pregnancies demand a level of care that only certain healthcare professionals (such as an obstetrician) can provide. But you may be able to choose a doctor or a nurse-midwife as your most responsible practitioner (MRP). Your MRP is mainly responsible for coordinating your healthcare and management.
Keep in mind that your MRP may be unavailable when your baby comes. During labor, you may not be in a state of mind to answer questions or make informed medical decisions. As such, you should choose a support person (or people) who can defend your birth plan. A doula, midwife, spouse, family member, or friend can work with medical teams to ensure your child’s birth is as close to your plan as possible.
Preferred delivery method
List your ideal delivery method in your birth plan but prepare for alternative procedures in case complications arise. Pre-existing health conditions and the status of your pregnancy may determine the safest delivery method for you and your baby.
Birth methods include a vaginal delivery or a cesarean section (c-section). Your medical team may assist a vaginal delivery in different ways. Discuss these options and others with your health practitioner to decide which procedures you prefer or wish to avoid if possible.
Think about the pain medications or natural coping methods that you might use to deal with the labor pains. Discuss these options with your medical team ahead of time to understand each method’s pros and cons. Then, list your preferred options in your birth plan.
Your care continues immediately after the baby is born and in the weeks that follow. Consider what postpartum procedures you want right after childbirth and the extra support you may need later.
Think about postpartum procedures such as:
- Who should cut the umbilical cord
- Whether to bank or donate cord blood
- The delivery of the placenta
- Whether you want to donate, save, or encapsulate the placenta
- Treatments for avoiding a postpartum hemorrhage
- Immediate skin-to-skin bonding
- How soon after delivery caregivers may examine the baby
- If caregivers can give your baby a pacifier, vitamins, or formula
- If you wish to circumcise your male baby
Depending on your medical team, different people may play different roles in your postpartum support. For example, a nurse or a midwife may visit you at home to check on the baby’s growth and guide you through breastfeeding. You may also wish to request a lactation specialist.