Before pregnancy, you probably hadn't heard of a birth plan, and now that you are pregnant you may still be unsure exactly what it entails. A birth plan is a written document created by you that spells out your wishes for your birth. From pain treatment to bonding time with the baby, it's all spelled out in the birth plan. You share it with your doctor and have it added to your medical file for support staff to read.
Begin by developing an idea of what you want your birth to be like in an ideal situation. This can be a herculean task for someone who has never experienced birth before, but don't stress about it. The good news is that while birth is largely an unknown until you experience it, you don't need to know what it's like to have some basic wishes for it. Imagine what your ideal birth would be like and write it down, knowing that, depending on your medical circumstances, some aspects of your birth plan may need to be altered. Imagining your "perfect birth" is a good start in writing your birth plan.
"The birth plan defined how I wanted the experience to be handled since I did go into the traditional setting of a hospital after laboring at home for 5 hours ," says mom Linda White.
Next, you will want to research some important aspects of birth plans such as pain medication, medical interventions and baby bonding options. It's important to make informed requests and be able to back them up with real data and information. Talk to your doctor and/or doula to help you come up with a plan that will best work with your medical needs. "I think one of the most useful aspects of creating a birth plan is the education you get in the process so that you know what your rights and choices actually are," said mom Amy Logan. "I recommend reading the book that helped me the most: The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer."
When you are done, share the birth plan with your partner, if you haven't already, and be open to suggestions. Your partner - the baby's father or whomever is supporting you in birth - may have some great ideas on other aspects of birthing and the experience that could improve on your own plans.
Next, share your birth plan with your doctor or midwife. Discuss your wishes and listen to their concerns or comments. Be open to change if there is an element of your birth plan that the doctor doesn't agree with, however make sure that you are on the same page about birthing.
"While researching birth plans, I came to see that there were ways to avoid unnecessary C-section. When I asked my OB about those, she said that if I was in labor longer than 12 hours, she would order a C-section. I asked if I could squat to push and she said 'No...where would I sit?' Wrong answers," says Logan. She ultimately had a homebirth with a midwife to achieve her perfect birth.
There are automatic generators all around that can help you quickly and easily write a birth plan. While these are good for giving you ideas of what to include in your birth plan, make sure you find one that allows you to customize it with your specific wishes. Make sure you keep your birth plan short and to the point. Use the automatic generators as a guide to help, but not as a roadmap. Get started on your birth plan by checking out our birth plan creator.
The most important thing to remember when writing a birth plan is that it is a document that speaks in ideals. If everything is perfect, then that is what you want your birth to be like. It is not a steadfast agenda for birth. Birth is uncontrollable and things can go awry. Even with a birth plan, you need to understand that sometimes things won't go according to plan.
"While we didn't follow everything on the plan (I said I wanted to go drug freeâ€¦HA!) we loved that we had it. The very process of writing the plan was great because it encouraged us to research options and make decisions ahead of time, before the stress of the actual delivery," said Kat Eden of Education.com. "Things like whether or not we wanted our boys circumcised, whether or not we wanted vitamin K drops for their eyes and whether or not we wanted to save cord blood. And then, for the actual delivery, it was so wonderful not to have to worry about making those decisions or communicating them to our hospital team."
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