Whether you’re pregnant with your first child, or you’ve given birth before, you probably have a few ideas about what you want your birth experience to be like. Although no birth ever goes exactly as expected, creating a birth plan provides an increased sense of peace and control. A complete birth plan also helps ensure that everyone involved with the birth of your baby knows what you want… and don’t want!
With a written plan, your doctor or midwife, your partner, and your delivery nurses and/or doula will all be clear on your intentions. This includes what is preferred and acceptable, as well as what is completely off-limits during your labor and delivery.
We’ve compiled the top five tips for putting together a comprehensive birth plan:
1. Start by journaling. Capture your thoughts and ideas about your birth experience preferences as they come to you. Although the final plan will be compiled into a simple document, journaling will help you organize and prioritize your wishes.
2. Learn as much as possible about the setting where you will be giving birth. Get to know the physical space where you will have your baby. Find out their standard policies and processes, including how they handle emergencies. Although everyone wants to expect the best, it’s a good idea to have a clear, mutual understanding of all procedures.
3. Ask and answer key questions. Think about who you want to have in the room while you are giving birth, what positions or activities you will want, and whether you will want fetal monitoring or pain medication. Consult with resources such as the American Pregnancy Association for additional questions you will want to answer for yourself as you craft your plan.
4. Consult the experts. You are not alone in this experience, so be sure to take advantage of all available resources. Particularly for any scenarios or options you’re not completely sure about, your health care provider and other OB/GYN support can give you information and advice. Having been through this many times with many parents, they can provide a variety of perspectives.
5. Be flexible, calm, and positive. No matter how much planning you do, the realities of bringing a human life into the world can be unpredictable. No matter what, try to enjoy the miracle of the experience and focus on having a safely delivered, healthy baby.
You can write out your own plan or use a birth plan template that has already been created. Either way, be sure to review your birth plan with your doctor or midwife in the weeks leading up to your due date. Having everyone on same page with realistic expectations will greatly enhance your labor and delivery experience.