Having a birth plan can really help you communicate to your doctor and birthing team what you want when you are in labor. The requests are made because often women are in too much discomfort and to express their wishes and concerns. Make sure you have an idea of what you want early in your pregnancy so you can find the best doctor and hospital to handle your needs and care.
You can find many examples in pregnancy books and on the Internet to help you organize your thoughts and make an easy to understand plan. You want to make sure that your plan is complete and your doctor has a copy on file and at the hospital by 32 to 36 weeks or sooner.
Make sure all the important people involved in your pregnancy have a copy and have read your birth plan. The doctor should have 2 copies so one is in the office, and the other is in your pre-registration packet at the hospital where you will deliver. Your coach, doula, and any other people who will be attending the birth, should have one as well and bring it with them.
Make sure there is an extra copy in your suitcase so that if in a hurry people forget theirs, or the hospital has lost it, copies can be made and passed around. This will ensure that everyone clearly knows what your desires are and the only way there will be changes is in a medical emergency.
Birth plans can be very different women to women and birth experience to birth experience. Some women are more concerned with medical intervention and drugs, while others make a strict plan that includes lighting, music and atmosphere. The most well thought out birth plans are the ones that go through labor, delivery, breastfeeding, and what to expect postpartum.
Expressing what you expect as you progress in labor is very important. Things to include are lighting, music, and water. Tell people whether you want to be in a tub to help out and if the lights need to be dim or bright.
Inform your couch on massage and acupressure to help ease the pain and need for alternative medications. Inform the staff of the hospital that you do or dont want to be offered pain medication at any point in time. Also express how the staff and support people should respond to you if you start asking for medications.
What you Dont Want
What positions or restrictions you dont want during labor or delivery should also be in the plan. If lying on your back does not appeal to you, then express that and use alternative positions, such as side lying, squatting, or with your bum in the air.
Let people know if you want to be able to walk around during labor. This helps labor progress quicker than staying in bed. Most hospitals let and encourage women to walk the halls of the birthing floor to promote progression. Let the medical staff be aware if you dont want to be hooked up to an IV.
Some hospitals want to put an IV in you as routine, as a precautionary in case you need medication at some point. This is not necessary and can be done if you need drugs like pitocin to help speed labor or certain pain medications. Not having the IV can reduce the risk of you asking of being offered IV drugs as well.
What you Do Want
What do you want for a delivery and how do you want the staff to treat any emergencies that come up? These questions are vital and must be thoroughly mapped out to best have your wishes met. Do you want to try a vaginal delivery as long as it progresses safely? Do you want them to break your water if it doesnt rupture on its own, which would mean you have to deliver in 24 hours to avoid risk of possible infection.
You might want to not have your water broken in case your labor takes longer. Would you prefer an episiotomy, forceps, or vacuum assisted birth as first option other than cesarean. Think about your needs and wants and write it all down in order of what you want to be done first and then move on to other alternatives. Tell your support team and couch to make sure these things are adhered too, with exception of dire medical emergency that might put you or the baby in harms way.
After Delivery Preferences
Make sure that after you have delivered, your wishes about feeding, visitors, and where the baby will spend its first few hours are laid out. If you want the first few hours or day to be just you, your partner and the baby, then make sure there is a sign put on your door that says check in at the nursing station before entering.
This will keep all guests out and the nursing staff will advise them when to return. This will also reduce how much staff comes in and out of your room. They will probably only bother you if you call or every two hours to check on you and the baby as standard procedure.
Make sure if you do request that your baby be in the nursery for whatever reason, you make sure to give strict guidelines on food. If you are solely breastfeeding, demand that they dont give a bottle and return the baby if it is hungry. Also ask if there is a lactation consultant available for newly nursing moms to help out and answer any questions you might have.
Declare what you want to be educated about prior to leaving the hospital and what to expect postpartum. How to take care of a belly button or circumcision is important. Also know what you will need in those first few weeks of recovery as far as feminine hygiene products and restrictions.
A birth plan covering this information will surely reward you in the long run. It will keep everyone informed and not allow you to forget what you wanted in those precious and confusing moments.