Women usually experience the late-pregnancy jitters as they progress into the third trimester of pregnancy. As much as they look forward to the arrival of their little one, they dread those hours in the labor and delivery room. There are so many questions in their mind, but they do not know who to look up to for the answers.
This is where a childbirth plan completes the picture like a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle. It helps keep you prepared for all the “whys, buts, and what…ifs” to come.
So, here’s explaining what a childbirth plan exactly is. Also, find tips to write your own childbirth plan.
What is a childbirth plan?
A childbirth plan is a written document expressing the expecting parents’ preferences for labor and birth. This is not be mistaken for a legal contract that binds you to follow all the clauses listed therein. It is a more concise way of letting the medical staff know about your needs, priorities, and preferences. This document is attached to the woman’s medical file and carried to the hospital at the time of delivery.
One need not follow the complete birth plan as it is. You can make changes even at the last minute. The primary purpose of preparing a childbirth plan is to make a woman feel in control and prepared for the labor and delivery to follow in a couple of weeks. A childbirth plan also makes the process of labor and delivery comfortable to a certain extent.
A birth plan should be prepared by the expectant parents in consultation with their doctors or midwives. Doctors not only answer questions posed by first-time parents but also raise questions and make the couple aware of issues and situations they are not aware of and may arise during the birthing process.
What does a childbirth plan typically consist of?
There is no hard and fast rule regarding the contents of a childbirth plan. Following are some of the commonly included questions:
- Location of the birth – At home or at a hospital
- Pain management preferences – Do you wish to use pain relief medications like an epidural, or do you opt for natural coping techniques.
- The delivery plan: Vaginal, C-section, VBAC, or Water Birth
- The atmosphere of the birthing room: Specify preferences regarding the type and number of lights you want to use, whether or not you want some soothing music, massage devices, or a birth ball.
- Items you would like to carry along – The hospital provides you with gowns and other things. However, if you wish to take your own nightgown or a pair of slippers, you should mention it in your birth plan.
- Who will accompany you to the delivery room? You will need to determine who will come along with you into the delivery room and support you during labor- your husband, boyfriend, mother, sister, or aunt.
- Whether you would like to have, the birth photographed or recorded (this is optional. Some hospitals do not allow it).
- Medical concerns, if any.
- Alternatives in case of unexpected events such as if you needed a C-section when a vaginal birth was planned.
- Positions during delivery: Specify whether you would prefer Walking, squatting, standing, on fours, lying on the back, lying on the side, or using a support bar.
- Immediate child care- who will cut the umbilical cord, who will hold the baby first, and whether you would like to breastfeed immediately.
Tips for writing an effective childbirth plan
Writing out a birth plan is not difficult.
- Although, in reality, it is a list of demands, do not make it sound so. Use polite language and make it sound like a request.
- The Birth plan should be brief and concise.
- The use of bullet points makes reading more comfortable and more convenient for medical practitioners and nurses.
- Instead of writing down your birth plan, type it out.
- Visit the labor and delivery unit and enquire about the available options for postpartum care and newborn care at the hospital.
- You can model your birth plan based on sample birth plans available online. But make sure you use the most recent ones and then have them checked by your doctor.
- You could also use the interactive birth plan creators available online.