You do not need to have a birth plan, but it can be a good idea, so your voice will be heard when you might not feel like speaking. Some doctors/hospitals will give you a template to fill out. You can review this guide and then talk to your doctor about the options that speak to you. If you’re ambivalent about any of these points, ask questions and do some research. Creating a birth plan isn’t an attempt to control the situation, just to get your ideas and wishes together for consistency among nurses and doctors at the hospital.
Before Labor Begins
In your plan, you might specify that as long as mother and child are healthy, you’d like to go into labour without induction. (Or add that you’d like to continue past your EDD as long as you’re both healthy. You can also state that you agree to do the Non stress tests (NST) as necessary.)
You can request no, or limited vaginal exams while in labour.
Research: Membrane sweep
(There are many natural ways to get labour going that don’t include the hospital like sexual intercourse, walking the stairs, nipple stimulation and more!)
You can request they limit or avoid residents or students attending your birth.
You might want to request:
Dimmed lights (can remain dimmed even at the end, doctor needs only a small spotlight to see)
For people entering the room to speak softly
For people not to speak during delivery
For the door to remain closed
What do you/ do you not want or wish to be offered? If you’re planning a medication-free birth, specify that you are aware of your options and will request if they’re needed. Ie: “I am aware of pain medication options, please do not offer me an epidural, I will ask for it if I want it.” You can also ask for privacy with your partner to discuss pain management before committing.
Do you wish to be able to move freely? Do you wish to have fetal monitoring kept to a minimum (which will allow you to move around–they normally do not need to do continuous monitoring.)
Do you prefer to have no time limits on pushing (unless baby is in distress)?
Do you prefer to avoid an episiotomy (unless there’s an emergency) ?
Would you like to avoid stirrups (unless it’s a medical emergency)?
Would you like to be guided in pushing or prefer to follow your body’s rhythm (hard to feel if you’ve had an epidural)
Would you like to view the birth using a mirror?
Would you like to touch baby’s head as it crowns?
Who would you like to catch baby? You? Your partner? Doctor?
Would you like the baby to hear your voice before others? Silence in the room?
Would you like for baby placed immediately skin-to-skin on your belly? (Common practice these days but might not hurt to include) would you like to delay all procedures until bonding and breastfeeding have occurred? Assure that anything that can be done while baby is on you, is done this way? Do you want all possible procedures done in your sight?
Do you want to delay bath (you can do this for the first time at home. Baby does not need soap on him in the days after birth it can be harmful (leave the good stuff on! Plus, the products they use at hospital tend to be unnatural/toxic. They will say they want to show you “how” to give baby a bath, but it’s really quite simple to do– get in the tub with your baby.
Would you like to wait for the umbilical cord to stop pulsating before it is clamped?
Would you like your partner to cut the umbilical cord?
Would you prefer for the placenta to be born spontaneously without the use of pitocin, and/or controlled traction on the umbilical cord?
Would you like to have routine pitocin given to me after the placenta is born or delay it unless there are signs of hemorrhaging.
Would like to take home your placenta? (note that this is typically quite difficult to do if you’re giving birth in a hospital, so be sure you really want it!)
Would you like to delay the administration of eye drops until after breastfeeding and bonding has occurred or avoid entirely?
Also look into:
– vitamin K injection/oral administration/refusing
– routine PKU testing
In case of emergency c-section, do you demand your partner is to be present at all times?
Ideally, would you like to remain conscious during the procedure? Would you like the baby to be shown to you immediately after he’s born?
Would you like contact with the baby as soon as possible?
I hope this is not overwhelming, and can serve as a guideline for the creation of your birth plan. Some hospitals and doctors have templates, and of course, if you have a doula, this is something she will help you with!