The whole nine months of pregnancy has been a rollercoaster ride, and now you’re finally nearing its conclusion. You’re about to give birth! Giving birth to your baby is a super exciting — albeit a bit frightening — turning point, one that will officially mark the end of your pregnancy and the beginning of motherhood.
To say that you need to prepare for delivery is an understatement. Physically, you need to eat healthy and exercise to have an easier and quicker labor. Mentally, you need to be aware of what takes place during labor, like timing the contractions. Emotionally, you need to embrace your new role as a mother from the very moment your baby arrives.
And then there’s a birth plan, which you should also make time to create.
What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is a document that outlines your preferences for labor and delivery. Your birth plan specifies your preferred type of delivery — vaginal, c-section, or VBAC — and whether or not you prefer to be given medication for pain. You can also use your birth plan to draw the environment that you want, like the person you want to be present while you labor.
But because anything can happen during labor and delivery, you need to keep an open mind and be flexible. You can add multiple options to your birth plan should your Plan A become impossible to follow. You also need to be prepared in case your doctors recommend going against what you wrote in your birth plan due to unforeseen circumstances and complications.
Why do you need to make a birth plan?
While you can definitely not control everything that happens during labor and delivery, it is important to make your preferences clear while you still can. When labor progresses and you are in pain and discomfort, it can be hard to state what you want to happen. But with a prepared birth plan, your can be confident that you and your doctor are on the same page.
What are the things that should be written in the birth plan?
The nice thing about making this document is that you do not really need to follow a particular birth plan template. Unless you want to, of course! In that case, you can look for a birth plan template that you can download and fill in with your information.
If you want your document to be tailored in order to fit your needs, here’s a birth plan checklist that you can use as a guide:
- Contact Information
- Doctor’s Name
- Doctor’s Information
- Medical conditions, if any
- Name of husband or family member staying with you
- Desired atmosphere: music, lights, photography, etc.
- Labor requests: pain management, enema, urinary catheter
- Delivery method: vaginal, c-section, water, VBAC
- Delivery preferences: episiotomy, umbilical cord, kangaroo care, etc.
- Newborn care: breastfeeding, formula feeding, rooming in, swaddling, etc.
Who needs to see your birth plan?
Whether you use a specific birth plan template or use a birth plan checklist to create a more free-flowing document, you need to make sure to give your doctor a copy that once it’s completed. Upon your doctor’s recommendation, give another copy to the hospital or center where you’re planning to give birth.
You may also want to prepare a few more copies for your husband, family members, and other medical professionals who might be seeing you.
Again, anything can happen when you’re about to give birth. It might not go as planned, and even with a birth plan around, it’s completely possible that it will not be followed due to unforeseen circumstances. Then again, nothing beats preparedness and it is very important to make your labor and delivery preferences clear from the get-go.