How To Create Your Birthing Plan
Free Birthing Plan Template, Checklist and Guide
A birthing plan is document where you specify your thoughts, fears, and wishes regarding your labor and childbirth. It is meant to guide your doctor and midwife to help you have the best possible birthing of your baby.
What is the point of writing a birth plan?
That is a question I hear expecting moms ask over and over again. And of course, there really is no such thing as planning the birth of your child in detail. Or even at all.
But writing a birth plan is still a good idea. In most places, you can get a form to fill in from your midwife or the hospital where you plan to give birth. If not, or if you want to get started right away, you can download a complementary birthing plan here. (Just right-click on the link and save.)
To be able to write a birthing plan that will be meaningful for yourself and your midwife, the best you can do is to really read up on all the options you have as well as how a childbirth actually proceeds.
To use the birth plan we provide or to simply get started with planning giving birth, answer the following questions (which correlate to the questions you are to answer in the birthing plan you just downloaded.)
How To Write A Birthing Plan
1) Write a bit about yourself and your spouseHere you might want to simply write if you have been talking through the childbirth at all, if you have been taking breathing and/or relaxation classes, if this is first time of giving birth for either of you (since one of you but not the other may have a child from a different relationship, for example), any medical conditions you would like to stress or anything else you would like to share.
If you will be accompanied by a doula (or someone else) that already knows you well, but who does not belong to the hospital, you may also want to mention that.
2) Our thoughts about giving birthHere you share whatever thoughts you might have. Do you feel well-prepared, calm, scared, or uncomfortable (with what)? Do you have any strong views on episiotomy, birth positions, directed pushing, giving birth naturally or anything else?
3) Our wishes regarding the environmentMaybe you don't care. Or maybe you really want soft music, dimmed lights and low voices. Or the opposite! Maybe you would like to ask for a doula, as some hospitals can provide that.
4) What I think about pain reliefTo be able to write anything about this, make sure you read about labor pain and pain relief options.
All pain relief methods have their pros and cons. Some expecting moms feel strongly that not hurting too much is their first priority, while for others it is way more important to not use anything that may interfere with the labor process or the well-being of the baby.
Think through what your priorities are and state them here.
5) Pain relief methods I do/do not want to try
After reading about pain-relief, write down which methods you prefer and if there are any that you absolutely don't want to try. Specify both medical and natural methods. Or simply write that you have studied the methods and will decide what to use when the time comes.
6) Birth positions I would like to try
First read about birth positions here. And here you can also learn about the stages of labor and specifically about what it is like to push in the second stage of labor. Understanding the different stages of labor will help you decide how you want to act while going through them.
You then write about if you for example would like to be able to walk around, have a bath, be in a upright position while pushing and so on.
7) What I worry about the most regarding this child birth
What are your foremost worries? Is it to not be able to cope with the pain? To be forced to an episiotomy (you have the right to question that), the well-being of your baby, being ignored by the midwife or something completely else? Let them know.
8) What you should know about the last time I gave birth
Have you done this before? What was it like? Is there anything you would like to do differently or the same?
9) How can the midwife/doctor/doula support me the best?
These people don't know you (yet). What is the best way to support you, as far as you know? Give you a lot of encouragement? Instructions? Remind you to relax and breathe? Tell you where in the process you are? Or not disturb you unless you ask them to? If you want them to help you avoid tearing and episiotomy during the pushing stage, this is also a good thing to stress here.
10) How can the midwife/doctor/doula support my spouse best?
Does your spouse want to take active part in helping you through the contractions? Any other particular wishes or thoughts your spouse may have?
11) This would be my ideal childbirth
Here, simply fantasize about the best possible childbirth you can imagine, to help the midwife understand what you are striving for.
Natural? Quick? Painless? Without any tearing? One where breathing and relaxation made your birthing a positive event?
12) Cutting the umbilical cord
Here you state whether you want your spouse to cut it and whether you want the cutting to help off for a few minutes to allow the iron reserves of your baby to be filled up. (A study by researchers at University of California, Davis has showed that this will boost your baby's iron reserves significantly and hence prevent anemia.)
13) After our baby has been born...
Here you can write things like if you want your baby to be put on your belly immediately, if you want to check the gender yourself, if you want to be the one giving the first bath, if you want examinations and weighing of the baby to held off for a little while if possible, if you want your baby to have a pacifier or not, if you would like to receive support by a nurse or (lactation consultant if available) to help you with the positions of your baby for breastfeeding and similar things.
14) In case of emergency
If your baby's heart beat goes down sharply or something else forces the doctors to intervene quickly, you might still want the staff to follow your wishes if possible. For example, you might want your husband to be allowed to be present during a C-section, you might want them to still hand over the baby to your spouse or yourself as soon as possible, you may want them to make an effort to keep the two of you informed of every step that has to be taken, for example. It might also be that if time permits, you would like to stay awake during the procedure.
14) Other specific issues
Anything else you would like to share or ask in your birthing plan? Just go ahead!
If you have any religious or cultural concerns that are important, remember to add them too.
Remember to keep the different parts of your birthing plan fairly short, friendly and easy to read. Your midwife should be able to quickly find out your wishes and thoughts while you are giving birth.
When you are done, make sure you know exactly where you keep your birthing plan, so you won't forget where it is or to bring is when it is time to give birth. Make a few copies of it too, to be able to provide a copy each to the people assisting you.
Now you have done a great job in preparing to give birth. Just remember to be open to changes in plans and preferences along the way.
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