When you’re pregnant, it can sometimes feel like it will take forever to get to meet your precious little one.
Between preparing your home and learning about newborn care, there’s a lot to do to prepare your heart and home for a new baby. Perhaps one of the most important tasks is to create a birth plan. A birth plan is a short list of your personal preferences for labor, delivery, newborn care, and testing. It ensures that your birth preferences are known and recognized by your birthing team.
While I can assure you that your birth experience won’t go quite as planned, putting together your birth plan is an important thing to do. There are so many important choices to make before you go into labor; putting together your birth plan helps you evaluate several important decisions before the big day arrives. If you don’t put together a birth plan, you would be leaving important decisions in the hands of your doctor.
Being confident about birth
Pregnancy and childbirth were a huge part of my life even before I ever became pregnant. My mom is an OBGYN, so I grew up around pregnancy and women’s health.
As a little girl, I spent many days at her office while she examined patients. I used to sit with the Labor & Delivery nurses while she visited her patients at the hospital. And every time she came home from delivering a baby, I’d always marvel at the fact that a baby was just born into the world and I’d ask her if it was a boy or girl. Every single time.
So as you can imagine, I felt quite empowered when I was pregnant. I had a complete insider’s perspective to pregnancy and delivery, thanks to my mom (who answered every single question I could possibly think of). And I’m an obsessive researcher, so I know there were hundreds of them!
Of course, this was a huge confidence booster for me as I prepared for my own birth experience. It made me feel like I had the knowledge I needed to advocate for myself during pregnancy and in the delivery room. That I knew what was best and what I wanted to avoid.
I want all pregnant women to have the same kind of confidence I did. No, your mom doesn’t need to be an OBGYN for you to have your voice heard in the delivery room. I share all of my personal preferences in my birth plan template.
Why every pregnant woman should write a birth plan
No matter what your pregnancy is like or what your circumstances are, I believe that you should write a birth plan. I want you to feel confident and empowered when it comes to your birth experience. And I want you and your baby to have the best recovery possible.
Here are some of the most important reasons to start writing your birth plan now.
1) Your birth experience matters.
While it’s often said that a healthy baby is all that matters when it comes to childbirth, we shouldn’t write off the importance of a positive birth experience. Your birth experience is important and your feelings matter, too.
A difficult labor or birth experience can be challenging to recover from and may also contribute to postpartum depression and anxiety. I want you to have the best possible birth experience you can, and one of the best ways you can achieve that is to know what you want beforehand. Knowing what is important to you can help you set yourself up for success.
2) You can weigh your options well before you’re in labor.
One of the most important reasons to write a birth plan is that it allows you to research all of your options before going into labor. Can you imagine trying to communicate your wishes to the nurse while you’re in labor? Would you even be able to make decisions on the fly while you’re birthing? No, and that’s why it’s best to do this research well in advance.
You will have some important choices to make. For example, how do you feel about being given Pitocin? Do you have any preferences for when the umbilical cord is cut? Do you want to breastfeed exclusively or is it ok to supplement with baby formula? Are you ok with pacifiers? These are all important decisions that you get a say in.
Researching your choices and creating a birth plan can help you familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of all your options. Otherwise, if you just allow your doctor to choose for you, you may not get the birth experience you’re hoping for.
3) Your birth plan is your voice.
Every mom is different; what you prefer may be different from what the woman birthing down the hall prefers. You shouldn’t expect that your doctor will know what you want. You specifically have to tell them what you want.
Once you’re midway through your third trimester, it would be a good idea to share your birth plan with your doctor to get their input. Make sure they’re on board with your preferences and will honor them as much as possible. Of course, some things could change, and I would always encourage you to maintain an open mind. Certain medical conditions can impact the options, like an emergency c-section, that you have and it’s important to discuss those with your doctor. But at least your wishes will be known.
And when you’re in labor, your birth plan serves as an important tool for your nurses to know your preferences too. If you’re committed to natural childbirth, for example, it’s important for your nurses to know this because they may coach you differently than someone who is more open to having an epidural.
A concise, confident birth plan is better for everyone involved: you and your baby, your doctor, and your nurses.
4) You will feel more confident and less overwhelmed during labor.
If you have a solid birth plan, you won’t feel as overwhelmed with all of the things going on during labor and delivery. When you’re laboring you will want to be focused on managing contractions and birthing your baby. You won’t want to be bothered with questions or with having to explain yourself to every nurse that checks on you. Having your preferences on paper makes it easier for you and for your birthing team to help you achieve your birthing goals.
5) Your birth plan is about more than childbirth.
Some considerations for after delivery include: Would you like the Vitamin K shot for your newborn? Would you like to do immediate skin to skin? Are the nurses going to bathe your baby? Are you breastfeeding or choosing to formula feed?
All of these answers can be found on your birth plan and easily seen by your delivery team. Figure out how you feel beforehand so that you can advocate for yourself and your baby.
Don’t be intimidated by horror stories of nurses who roll their eyes at your birth plan. Once you have your preferences figured out you can create a simple concise birth plan for yourself, doctor and nurses so that they are all on the same page with you. You can type it up or customize my free template. Though I would recommend giving a printed version to your doctor and bringing along 2-3 copies to the hospital for your nurses so they can easily and quickly reference it.
What are you going to put into your birth plan? Wishing you an amazing birth experience!
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