Your birth plan encompasses your preferences during and after your delivery. It states your personal choices of where to deliver, the type of delivery, and the care for your newborn baby. A birth plan is an optional labor plan, but discussing it with your maternity team may be advantageous. Some doctors may roll out a birth plan and worksheet starting at the 32nd week of your pregnancy. A few weeks before your expected date is the best time to talk to your doctor to help you make sound decisions.
What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is an organized framework of your wishes during and after your baby delivery.
It includes, among others, your delivery room request and the conducive environment you want during labor. You may also list your family members present in the room on this big day.
What is in a birth plan?
Every baby delivery is unique, and women have various options on how to deliver their babies. Baby delivery is not only about vaginal or C-section birth.
Women today have the options to deliver at home or practice Lamaze or Bradley methods.
In the hospital, she can choose vacuum extraction, forceps delivery, or vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC).
Here are the basic things that you should include in the birth plan:
- The delivery room and atmosphere that you want
- The people you want inside the room
- Pain management (epidural, pain medications)
- Labor options (walking, breathing techniques, birthing balls)
- Medical assistance when needed (induction of labor, C-section, forceps)
The birth plan also includes the care and management that you want for your newborn:
- Baby monitoring
- The umbilical cord or placenta
- Feeding options
- Other baby care (kangaroo care, circumcision for boys, etc.)
When to start with the birth plan?
You can start drafting your birth plan at about the 32nd week of your pregnancy or a few weeks before your due date.
But the earlier you can start thinking about your birth preferences, the better. It will give you time to talk about it with your doctor or midwife.
Most doctors will honor the birth plan but maybe with some differences in opinion. Your OB or midwife will always want a safe way for you and your baby.
So, expect that there might be options that will not align with their judgment, especially if it does not conform with their routine practices.
An early birth plan will give you an informed professional opinion and settle your different views. It will also allow you to look for an alternate provider if you don’t feel comfortable with the present one.
When should I give my doctor a copy of my birth plan?
Furnish your labor and delivery team photocopies of the birth plan only on the day of delivery. Doctors may only forget it if you give it ahead of time which can render it useless.
Are birth plans binding for nurses to follow?
When drafting your birth plan, expect some disappointment if some things will not go as written. A birth plan is a communication between you and your doctor.
Nurses may change shifts during your labor and may not fully practice what is written on your plan. Also, doctors themselves may call things out if necessary for you and the baby’s safety.
So, is a birth plan important or not?
The birth plan will give you and your doctor a sense of preparedness on your delivery day.
It is important for doctors, especially if you have an underlying health condition and need medical interventions while in labor. But every birth is different, so be flexible and expect that not everything in the plan will be carried out.
A birth plan is a helpful tool that will give the birth support team an overview of the services you need during labor.
It makes the childbirth more personal and your doctor more informed and prepared of your choices. Thus, you can concentrate more on yourself and your baby without the grueling decision-making while in pain.
Your doctor always knows what is best for you and your little one. However, communicating your plan earlier will let both of you know whether you are on the same boat or need to make necessary changes.