Medical Minute: Birth Plan

New moms… once upon a time we were all new and nervous.  THAT is going to come out of WHAT?  We all said it, we all wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Before you pack the bag and paint the nursery, take some time to think about the birthing experience and how you want it to go.  You can’t predict the future, but you can be informed and make your preferences known to avoid disappointment and conflict.

A birth plan is a communication tool that summarizes how you want different aspects of your baby’s birth to be handled. It is not a contract, but rather a simple, clear, one- to two-page statement that outlines your choices. The birth plan is a guideline that can be changed at any time and should be flexible in case something comes up at the hospital or you change your mind after labor begins.

It is probably best not to wait until the last minute to create your birth plan. You might want to discuss your choices with your health care provider and ask for feedback or suggestions. Once you have completed your birth plan, give a copy to your doctor, send one to the hospital where you plan to give birth, and pack one to take with you on the day you give birth. Some topics you might want to address in the birth plan include the following:

  • Who do you want in the delivery room? (partner, parents, family, friends or other siblings)  **TIP:  Think of a code word with your nurse to clear the room if you want privacy but don’t want to offend the visitors.  Mine was “Could I get some grape juice?”  My nurse would then tell my visitors it was time to go.  I loved her for that!**
  • How do you want to manage your labor? (walk around, change positions or labor in a birthing tub or shower)
  • Do you want to wear your own clothes or a hospital gown?  **TIP:  Wait until afterwards to even think of wearing your clothes.  One word: stains. **
  • Do you want to wear your glasses or contact lenses (if possible)?
  • What kind of environment do you want during labor? (play your own music, dim the lights and have minimal interruptions)
  • What do you want to do to relieve pain? (massage, medications, breathing exercises or hot and cold packs)
  • Do you want to avoid induction or an episiotomy unless medically necessary?
  • Would you prefer a routine IV, heparin/saline block or nothing at all?
  • How often do you want fetal monitoring?
  • Do you have any special requests in case you need to have a Cesarean delivery?
  • Is videotaping or photography allowed in the delivery room?
  • Who will cut the umbilical cord?
  • Will you bank the umbilical cord blood?
  • Do you want your baby immediately placed on your stomach/chest after delivery?
  • Do you want to breastfeed?
  • Do you want your baby to room-in with you?
  • Can your baby have a pacifier?
  • If you have a boy, do you want him to be circumcised?

A birth plan can help you feel more confident about the upcoming birth and part of the decision making process even if there are unforeseen circumstances.

Medical information provided by:  Brookwood Women’s Medical Center

2 thoughts on “Medical Minute: Birth Plan

  1. yes i do!! so ready to deliver there in a few weeks.. this will be my second baby born at brookwood and even though we live all the way in odenville i will never change hospitals, i love your labor/delivery/or and your nicu.thanks for all you do

  2. This is all fine and good if your doctor is receptive to it. Many are not, and if they want to do things a certain way, it takes very little “medical necessity” (low amnio fluid, for one – extremely common) to start inducing or a c-section. If you are interested in doing things a certain way, make sure UP FRONT that your DOCTOR is receptive to your wishes (he/she will be in charge) and that the rest of the practice shares their attitude. Ask about their c-section rate. Also a good labor nurse is good too, but you don’t always get to pick (I just happen to have a friend). If your doctor and his/her practice is not receptive to birth plans in general, or tries to “poo-poo” your feelings, SWITCH, and don’t worry about it being too late in the game (unless of course your baby is crowning at that moment. Then it is too late in the game!). Get recommendations from friends. You have the right to go into this the way that you want to!

    BUT be warned, you must be flexible because things can happen that you don’t expect. You might change your mind about pain meds, or you might have conditions that you didn’t foresee. Or the baby could have heart rate issues… those are things that can throw the birth plan out the window. Consider your fall-back plan. And remember “All’s well that ends well.”

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