Writing out your birth plan, or even just thinking about how you want your labor and delivery to go, can be a little overwhelming.
You really have no clue how things are actually going to end up going, and even just thinking about the fact that it could go completely opposite of how you’d like is scary.
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That being said, I personally wrote up a bit of a birth plan. Even if I never ended up using it or referring to it (which I didn’t really), it really helped me get some of my thoughts down and think about how I imagined things going.
Whether things go to plan or not, it is important to be informed about your options in any scenario, so you can advocate (or a trusted partner can advocate) for what you want.
What Is a Birth Plan?
If you don’t know what a birth plan is, it’s a plan that you can either have in mind or actually write out on how you want your labor and delivery to go.
For example, whether you want any kinds of medication or not would be on there. You can write a birth plan for any kind of birth, whether that be natural and unmedicated, natural and medicated, or a cesarean birth.
I chose to write one with a few things on it because there were some things I really didn’t want to sway on when it came to the delivery – provided there were no emergencies of course.
A lot of the things I wanted to put on it, the hospital I gave birth at already had in place anyway, so that made things a lot easier for me. Make sure you ask your hospital and your doctor or obstetrician what they put in practice during labor and delivery.
When I first started thinking about writing a birth plan, I started getting a little nervous.
I don’t have a lot of friends who have gone through child birth, and none who have done it the way I planned to – naturally and unmedicated. So, a lot of what I had to go off of was what my mother had told me (which was very helpful, but every experience is different) and what I learned in our child birth class.
My husband and I also went on a private hospital tour of the hospital I delivered at and it put my mind so much at ease.
Originally, I wanted to have a midwife and maybe go to a birthing center instead of the hospital, because I didn’t realize how much hospitals have really become more conducive to natural births. I always associated hospitals with cesareans or things going wrong.
My area also does not offer midwife services or home birth options, so it was easier to go with my obstetrician at the local hospital. I have no regrets! I loved my OB and the hospital I delivered at. My overall birth experience was amazing.
If you’re having a baby at a hospital, no matter how you plan on delivering him or her, I highly recommend you take a hospital tour if it’s available. Even just seeing the place you will be when you deliver and being a little familiar with it could make a difference in how your delivery goes.
You can also find out what your hospital has to offer for during labor.
Taking a prenatal class also helped so much. The prenatal class we took opened my eyes to the options I have, as well as to the policies in place to make my labor and delivery go smoothly.
The most important thing for me was not necessarily that things go how I wanted them to, because there are some things you just can’t control.
The most important thing to me was that I have a choice and that I was well informed on anything and everything that will and could go on.
So, onto my birth plan.
That’s what I used to follow here. They have a huge list of things you can add, but I just modified mine to be small and simple.
MY BIRTH PLAN
Name: Thandi Nagel
Partner/Support Person’s Name: (Your partner and/or support person)
- Put what you want here. I only wanted my husband and I for delivery, but be super firm about what you want when it comes to visitors during and after child birth.
- None if possible
- I will be using natural pain relief techniques
In case of c-section/interventions
- As little interventions given as possible
- I’d like all other options exhausted first (if possible) before medications or other interventions are offered
In case of need of labour augmentation
- I’d like to try other natural options before medical options (I have a list of these)
- I’d like baby’s exams/shots, etc given during skin to skin (when possible)
- He will be breastfed
- Delayed cord clamping
I was also going to put no episiotomy (if possible) but my particular hospital, and I think a lot of obstetricians and hospitals, are realizing that tearing naturally is usually a safer and easier recovery for the mom.
Sometimes it’s still necessary, but most hospitals don’t use it as a practice anymore (at least here in Canada).
Delayed cord clamping is also a practice at my hospital anyway, but I put it on there because it’s so important to me (if you don’t know what it is, look it up! There’s even an OB trying to start doing this for cesarean births too, at this hospital).
I would have added other things like immediate skin to skin after birth, but that was another thing that is hospital policy already which I was super happy about.
You may also want to add anything you think the OB (who at my hospital may not be the OB I have been seeing for my pregnancy) or prenatal nurses need to know about you and your pregnancy.
For example, allergies to any medications, or however your pregnancy or delivery may be unique from others.
I also had a list of pain management techniques to help me get through active labor. It was a little trial and error, but once I found some things that worked I stuck to those until they didn’t work anymore.
My birth plan was short and simple. Nurses have other things to do that don’t include reading through a book of a birth plan, so as long as you have the important things down (the things that really matter to you) that’s all you need.
When in doubt about what to add, ask your obstetrician, physician, anyone at your hospital’s labor and delivery unit, or whoever will be assisting in your delivery. Asking questions is how you find out your options!
Taking a prenatal parenting class also helped me decide on some things I could add or didn’t really need to add, as it was run by a doula who knew some of the hospital’s policies as well.
You can also ask your friends and family, if you have any that have given birth, about what they added or didn’t add!
Your options are really endless these days, provided there are no complications. Even with some complications, there are still ways you can have control over your own delivery experience.
That is what is most important to me – knowing that even if things don’t go as planned, I had control over what happens. It’s always good to be informed!
If you want to read about how everything went read My Son’s Birth Story here!