When you are expecting, your head is filled with excitement, questions and to-do lists. Writing important things down can help you keep your priorities in order, especially where the upcoming birth of your child is concerned.
Creating a list of birth preferences can help you and your provider explore options for your upcoming delivery, including details about your plan for pain management and care for your baby. Sketching things out ahead of time can help hospital staff understand your wishes and improve communications between everyone involved.
Your personal birth plan may include:
- Designation of your support person and details about who you would like to be with you during labor and birth. If you plan to have support from a doula, that should be indicated on the plan.
- Pain management details, such as whether you prefer [“non-pharmalogic coping methods”: link to new managing pain without medications article] such as a labor tub, shower, massage or birth ball, analgesics, which lessen labor pain while preserving ability to move your muscles, or anesthetics, which relieve pain by blocking sensation
- Preferences for the environment during delivery, such as if you would prefer specific lighting, an essential oil diffusor or music
- The type of privacy you would prefer during [“skin-to-skin contact”: link to new The Golden Hour article] that UK HealthCare promotes during the first two hours after birth
- The type of fetal monitoring you prefer, keeping in mind that the health of you and your baby may indicate the type of monitoring recommended
- Who you want in the operating room should an unplanned Cesarean section (C-section) be required
- Who you want to cut the umbilical cord and when you want this to occur
- Your plans for how you will feed your baby
- Your preferences during a routine labor and delivery
- If and when you choose for your baby to receive medications after the birth
- If you want your male baby to be circumcised
One of the components of your birth plan may include the position in which you would like to give birth. While giving birth in a reclined position is common in Western countries, several different options may enhance your labor and birth. If you are considering giving birth in a different position, such as standing, kneeling or squatting, talk to your provider.
Your personal health, your baby’s health and your schedule may factor into your decision about what kind of birth you prefer. This can include options such as:
- Unmedicated birth — You let nature guide the process and do not use epidurals or other types of pain medications.
- C-section birth — You can schedule a day and time for this surgical procedure.
- Induced birth — If your due date has come and gone and your baby still has not arrived several days later, you and your provider can discuss inducing labor with medications to start the process.
- Vaginal birth after C-section — If you have had a C-section, having a VBAC during your next delivery can reduce you risk of hemorrhage and infection while also shortening your postpartum recovery.