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Creative Child

10 Tips on Writing a Birth Plan

by Mollie Twohig

I'm not exaggerating when I say that my birth plan was five pages long, single-spaced (bulleted that is; I wasn't that crazy!). What's ironic though was that shortly before writing it, I hadn't even known what a birth plan was, or why you would even want/need to write one. After some procrastination, I finally set aside some time to write mine and consulted numerous sources including my child birthing class notes, books, online samples, and selected advice from friends and family.

The final document was in my mind a masterpiece, and I couldn't wait to show my hubby, doctor, and anyone else who wanted to read the weighty tome. The funny thing is that I soon learned that I was probably the only one who read the plan in its entirety: not my husband, not my OB, and not the nurses at the hospital!

So what, then, is the point of writing out what your preferences and expectations are for your birth if no one refers to it? The answer is easy: It's so that you become an informed decision maker who will know how to immediately respond and make an educated decision when and if a critical moment arises instead of simply being told what to do.

Below is my top ten list of what to include on your plan. These are things that I might not have spent time considering had I just blindly gone to the hospital.

baby parenting birth plan birthing pregnant baby

1. Attendees:

Do you really want your mother-in-law dispensing advice as you begin that next contraction? Maybe you really want your two best friends in the room and not just your husband. Consider who you want to witness this special moment, and who you can honestly handle being in the room.

2. Environment:

My room might as well have been a John Legend concert: chill music, dimmed lights, candles (flameless of course!), lack of clothing (lol!). Think about how you will be the most comfortable in your labor room.

3. Hospital Procedures/Policies:

Do you want the entire Grey's Anatomy team taking notes over you or just your OB? Are you okay with having an IV (saline lock) administered right away or would you prefer to hydrate naturally? What about walking around the hospital while laboring? I knew that I wanted to move around as much as possible instead of begin confined to a bed, so I opted for intermittent fetal monitoring instead continuous (as long as the baby and I were doing fine).

4. Pain Relief:

This is a big one. What are your thoughts on getting an epidural? I wasn't for or against it, and I waited to see how I felt once I was deeply in labor since it was my first time. What I did know was that I didn't want the epidural to be administered too early, to avoid too many subsequent doses that might then increase the need for Pitocin (a brand name for the drug Oxytocin, which helps to start or continue labor) later on to induce labor. You can also ask the hospital if a "walking epidural" (lesser dose) is available.

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5. Birth:

Do you want to be pushing while lying on your back or would you rather be squatting? Would you like a mirror so that you can see your baby's little head crowning? What are your thoughts on having an episiotomy or the use of forceps if needed? Other considerations included knowing that I wanted my husband to cut the umbilical cord and that immediately after delivery, I wanted to hold my baby right away and then breastfeed skin to skin.

baby parenting birth plan birthing pregnant baby

6. Post-Partum:

Does the hospital allow for 24 hour rooming? Most hospitals these days prefer to have the baby in the same room with the mom, unless there is a medical need for them to be elsewhere or unless the tired parents just need some rest.

7. Cord Blood Banking/Placenta Encapsulation:

These are two relatively new trends that you may want to research before your due date. I opted to do placenta encapsulation and loved it, but it's not for everyone.

8. Feeding:

Do you plan on breastfeeding exclusively, and do you want your baby to be given anything other than the breast (formula, pacifier, etc.)? If you do opt to breastfeed, are there on site lactation consultants available to you?

9. Circumcision:

To snip or not to snip, that is the question!

10. Discharge:

Does the hospital require that you stay for a certain period of time or can you leave or stay depending on how you feel?

Important to note is that while I did have a "plan" in mind, I did know that in an instant I would give up any part of it to create a low-risk and healthy delivery for my baby. I also trusted my doctor implicitly, and I knew that at the end of the day, I would allow her to help us make any critical decisions in special circumstances. Without a doubt, though, the process of preparing the birth plan and thinking through it myself armed me with invaluable knowledge and confidence as I entered the scariest and most exciting moment of my life.

Related Article: Pregnancy Journals and Activity Books

Bio coming soon.

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