The big day is on the way! As you get closer to welcoming your new baby into the world, it is important to get ready for when the time comes. Many expecting mothers use birth planning to prepare and communicate their preferences for themselves, their loved ones, and their medical team. Making a birth plan can be instrumental in creating the smoothest possible birthing experience for you and your baby. To get you started, we have outlined below the steps, considerations, not to mention ‘do’s and don’ts’ of writing a birth plan!
Birth Planning 101
So what is a birth plan? It is a document you create to serve as a roadmap for how you want your labor and delivery process to go. This is something that you will craft and offer to your doctors and other supporters ahead of time to let them know your preferences. While you can’t ensure that everything goes as planned, it is important to let your team know in advance what your ideal situation would look like and some of the preferred alternatives when changes need to be made. Some of the most important considerations include how you want to approach managing your pain, as well as wishes for yourself and your newborn during and after delivery.
Ready to begin? Let’s dive in! Perhaps the most important part of your plan is selecting the health care professionals and advisors that align with your goals and values. Before you make your selection, research the delivery process so that you can visualize your ideal situation. Then, meet with a few candidates to find providers that you feel comfortable with. Next, consider the best and worst possible outcomes to plan for as many as possible situations that could lead you closest to your ideal. Having your values in mind will keep you prepared to make decisions when the time comes.
Comfort & Support
Once you have your goals and medical team ready, it is time to prepare for the delivery room atmosphere. Consider the location and their policies. If you want a water birth, can the facilities accommodate that? Next, who do you want to be there? Be sure to explain to your medical team who will be providing your primary support. Who else will attend? Is the location big enough to support your whole posse? When considering what to bring, note a few items that will make you at home. Maybe it is a favorite pair of slippers, a sentimental blanket, or something special to hold onto and keep you motivated through the big pushes. It can be helpful to add these special items when writing a birth plan. Remember, your comfort is a top priority!
Preparing for Pain
Pain management is a hot topic! So be sure to research both natural and pharmacological options for handling pain. Find out what you are comfortable with ahead of time. Would you prefer a natural birth? If so, be sure to communicate that clearly. You can opt out for the time being and write that you will ask for pain relief if you need it. Think about unmedicated pain management techniques you might like to try as well. Consider position changes, movement, massage, breathing techniques, heat and cooling, and more. Even if you don’t choose to include them in your plan, try to have some alternatives in mind that you might select in the given circumstance so you are prepared if need be.
Carefully consider and write down what are you ok with happening during the birth. What are your preferences in case of a cesarean section or if your baby needs to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)? Which assisted delivery techniques (such as vacuum, forceps, or episiotomy) are you comfortable with? Have a conversation with your doctor about these things ahead of time to learn more and communicate your preferences.
After the Birth
Once your baby has entered the world, there are some immediate questions you’ll need to consider. What newborn procedures are you envisioning? Write down who you want to cut the umbilical cord and whether you want a circumcision performed at the hospital. How are you planning to feed your baby, breast milk or formula? If your newborn has low levels of vitamin K, would you like them to receive a shot to remedy this? What about providing eye drops? Bathing the baby? Be sure to talk to your doctor about Phenylketonuria (PKU) testing and include your preferences when making a birth plan. Do you have any additional questions or requests for after the birth?
Do’s & Don’ts
Now that you have the considerations down, let’s go through some of the essential do’s and don’ts of writing a birth plan! Do plan for as many situations as possible. But don’t expect everything to go as planned. While you might feel passionate about certain values, try your best to not get too hung up on all of the smaller details. If things don’t go as planned, know that your doctor has your best interests in mind. Do bring this document with you to an appointment with your doctor prior to the birth so you can explain your preferences. Be sure to include a printed copy, or two, in your list of things to bring to the hospital at the time of the birth.
At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, we are passionate about your baby’s life at every stage. Soon after your newborn’s arrival, you will need to find a pediatrician to care for your growing baby’s needs. Before the birth, consider finding your baby’s future doctor at the top of your list. To learn more, or meet our knowledgeable team, visit us at www.coastalkids.com. We look forward to meeting you and little one!