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Your Birth Plan: How to Write it, What to Include, and Why it’s Important

You’ve read all the books, talked to your friends, and done your research. You know what you want (and don’t want) during labor and delivery. Now it’s time to put it all into a birth plan—a document that outlines your preferences for labor, delivery, and postpartum care. Here are some things to keep in mind first as you write your birth plan.

  • The purpose of the birth plan is to be concise and get vital information down on paper.
  • A written birth plan is most useful for delivering the most important information about your preferences for labor and delivery to your care team.
  • Your care team is concerned with the health of you and your baby, so focus on relevant information. It’s important they know any conditions or complications you’ve had that could affect labor or delivery, like high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, or a previous c-section.
  • Do include a c-section if you want one as part of your plan — it’s considered a birth plan choice as well!
  • Do not address every possible scenario, including ones that don’t involve the actual birth process such as guests in the waiting room or personal items brought to the hospital (like pillows or music).
  • Focus on what’s most important to you when preparing your birth plan, including who you want with you during labor and delivery at each stage as well as if you have religious or cultural beliefs that will play a role in how you’d like to deliver.

Let’s start working on your birth plan now! Here’s a sample template with great starting points for your own personal version.

Your Village

When you’re about to give birth, you may want to involve some key people in your life. Here are some of the best people to choose from to get on your team:

Your partner. A partner’s support can make a big difference in how you feel before and after giving birth.

Your family. Some partners choose to be present during the labor and delivery period, while others prefer to wait outside.  Either way, you will always have a family support system to ring in.

Your doctor and nurses. They’ll be able to help you through any complications or unexpected issues that may arise during labor and delivery.

A doula (if possible). This is someone who is trained to help with labor and delivery, but will also act as an advocate for your needs as a parent-to-be, like helping you find childcare once the baby arrives!

Medical History

In order to avoid any complications during and after the delivery, it is important to share and include all the relevant medical information in the birth plan. Make sure to remember the list below to include in yours as these are what your doctor should know to determine if there is a risk that you and your baby may have.

Previous medical diagnosis

Any medications and supplements taken in

Family history of illness

Allergies

Past pregnancy and delivery information

Depression

Atmosphere

There are a lot of factors that go into creating a comfortable atmosphere during your pregnancy delivery. Whichever values you hold close to your heart whether environment or anything else; it is important that you don’t compromise on these things during pregnancy delivery. Two main points to consider:

Where will you be giving birth? Most of the pregnant women preferred two of the options below:

Home

If you’re the type of person who’s comfortable being confined within the four walls of your home and would prefer to be in control during the birthing process, this is the perfect option. Just make sure everything is planned, there’s a certified midwife to assist during the delivery and ready if in case there is a need to go to the hospital.

Hospital

A great place to have your baby if you want medical attention available at all times. Although, hospitals can also be stressful—especially if you’re having complications or complications arise during labor.

It’s also good to take down what you think or feel would be a comfortable setting of your surrounding during the delivery, whether you want the…

Lights dimmed

Quiet room

Music playing in the background

Wear your own clothing

Wear a hospital gown

Limit the person within the room

You can keep the list long as long as you want but ensure to make it clear so the people that will be involved can help set it all up beforehand.

Pain Management Preferences

The next section of your Birth Plan is a list of pain management preferences. You may want to have a natural birth or not, but either way, it’s important to discuss this with your doctor and hospital staff. There’s a pain medication preference scale that you can coordinate with them to assist you in figuring out how you think you’ll take the pain during delivery.

Here’s a list of pain relief techniques you also might want to check and take note for:

Epidural. A medication will be injected into the epidural space around the spinal cord. Little shock at first but it allows a smooth experience on an intense delivery.

Acupressure. This involves massaging pressure points on your skin with your hands or fingers and may include kneading muscles with gentle, circular movements.

Breathing exercises. Inhale and exhale in a comfortable rhythm will help relieve pain by reducing stress levels, boosting relaxation, and improving oxygen flow throughout the body.

Acupuncture. An ancient form of medicine where needles will be inserted at specific points on the body to relieve pain.

Birthing Positions Preferences

There are many different birthing positions that you can choose from, and each has its own benefits. Some positions may be more comfortable for you, while others may help your baby to move down the birth canal more easily. Two of the most common positions you might want to add to your birth plan are the following:

Fetal Position. This is the most common birthing position. It’s where you lay on your back with legs slightly apart and usually supported by pillows under the hips. If you’re able to get into this position, it can be a good way for gravity to help ease some of the pressure off of your pelvic area.

Lithotomy Position.  This means that your bottom half is in an elevated position (usually on top of a bed or chair), while your upper body remains flat on its back. This exposes more of your body during delivery and makes it easier for medical professionals to access.

Any Other Delivery Wishes

It’s important to remember that your birth plan is not a contract. It’s just a way for you and your medical team to communicate what you’d like during the procedure. If something goes wrong or if there are complications, the medical staff will work with you on the best course of action. It could mean changing plans at a moment’s notice or doing things differently than what was agreed upon in advance; it does not mean that they are disregarding your wishes altogether.

Here are some ideas for additional things you can request:

Use of forceps during delivery

Use of ventouse during delivery

Use an IV

Use a catheter

Postpartum Care Requests

The pain that you’ll experience doesn’t stop when the baby is born that is why it is vital to include postpartum care requests in order to have a smoother and more comfortable afterbirth experience. Here’s some guidelines that you might want to look into:

If you have any requests for pain management after delivery, such as an epidural or other medication, please list these here ________________________________________________.

You may experience constipation; would you like to take laxatives to treat it?

Yes

No

Bowel movements could be difficult after the delivery, do you want to take stool softeners?

Yes

No

Breastfeeding Plan

Before your baby is born, it is important to ask whether there will be any restrictions on breastfeeding in the hospital or in your postpartum room (if you deliver at home). Do take note most hospitals offer a lactation consultant who can help with concerns related to breastfeeding technique and supply issues. If you don’t want your baby to be breastfed and opt to feed through formula, specify it as well on your birth plan, but if you do, it is important that the key person involved in your delivery knows if you would like to:

Breastfeed right after delivery

Breastfeed later

No contact use breastpumps

Newborn Care Instructions

Be clear about what kind of care you want your baby to receive. This is important so that the medical staff can provide the best possible care for your child. Here are some things to consider:

Would you like skin-to-skin contact with your newborn after delivery?

Yes

No

Would you like your baby to get bathed before you hold them?

Yes

No

Who would you like to give your baby their first bath?

Yes

No

If it’s a boy, do you want him to be circumcised after the delivery?

Yes

No

Do you want to keep your placenta?

Yes

No

We hope this article has given you some ideas and inspiration for how to create your own birthing plan. We know that it’s a big project, but we also know how much it can help reduce stress during your birth experience—and that’s something worth taking the time for!

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