I personally found making the birth plan to be incredibly difficult. I think for me there were two reasons that it was so difficult. First, I found that most sample birth plans were for hospital births. Second, I found that most birth plans had so many things in them that I had to make decisions about. The first issue I think is one that is going to lessen in the near future as more and more women have out of hospital births. I’m not having a home birth, but I am going to a midwifery, which is definitely different than a hospital. The second problem I encountered was a bit more difficult to overcome. I did get past it, but I just didn’t know all this information beforehand to think about it.
The truth is that no one talks to you about the nitty-gritty of giving birth. People will glad tell you about their 50 hour labor and the excruciating pain they would have endured without the epidural, but they don’t tell you about how to handle the small things. Do you want to touch the baby as it’s being born? Does your husband want to cut the cord? Who should announce the gender if you don’t know it yet? Do you want delayed cord clamping? Are you cord banking? What should be done with your placenta?
These aren’t even things that I fully included in our birth plan, because I’ll be honest it’s overwhelming. When the midwife asked me what my ideal birth would be, my answer was get it done! That isn’t to say I didn’t have some elements included. I just didn’t have strong opinions about them all and neither did my husband. He wasn’t gung-ho to cut the cord, but we also didn’t want to take it off the table. We don’t know the gender of our baby, but we’ll just be glad to have a baby so I’m not certain who needs to announce the gender. Delayed cord clamping has mixed reviews online so it’s hard to make a decision where I feel super informed. So, what did I learn about making a birth plan?
I learned that you have to decide what is most important to you and focus on those things first. It’s your birth plan, and you want the things you have strong feelings about to be in the forefront of it all. For me, it was easier to deal with these things because the midwifery just doesn’t do them anyway. They aren’t going to give me medicine for pain or induce my labor. They are merely going to support my labor. Of course I needed a place in my birth plan for transfer, because we can’t be 100% sure that anything will go as planned. We can put a place in our birth plan for the event that something does go wrong though. We had to plan for who would be present if there were a cesarean section. We obviously planned for and prefer a natural birth, but we know that there are reasons that may become impossible. We had to be realistic and you should be too when making your birth plan.
When making your birth plan, it is also nice to not make demands. I will not do this is likely to get less of a response than I’d prefer not to do this, because the doctors and nurses you’ll be with during your labor and delivery have seen it all. They know that when you make it in the form of a request the feeling is still strong, but they also know that you’re willing to be flexible if necessary. This will make their job easier and your labor better all around. I’ve seen women change their mind in the middle of it all, and it’s okay. You have to make a birth plan for your ideal birth and then be flexible from there.
Our birth plan is as follows:
Dear Midwifery Staff,
First and foremost, we would like to thank you for being a part of this very special time in our lives. We appreciate all the patience you have shown us during this learning process as we prepare for the delivery and of course during the delivery. This is our first baby, and we are very grateful to have you on our birth team. We could not have selected a better experience thus far. We expect the labor and delivery to be just as wonderful of an experience so please accept this as a token of our appreciation beforehand. As midwifery personnel, you probably see a great many birth plans, please bear with us this is our first baby and this information is important to us.
We understand that in the event of an emergency some of our choices below may not be possible, and we are flexible if the time comes. We only ask for patience and explanation so that we are not left confused.
Birth Partners: (Daddy) & (doula)
Home Labor Goals:
We would like to labor at home as long as possible with our doula present.
We would like to transfer to birthing center when we notice certain changes in labor.
Birth Center Labor Goals:
We plan to have present at the birth: the midwife on duty, (daddy), and (doula)
The mother prefers not to have an IV administered unless determined to be required for another procedure to facilitate delivery.
The birth environment is important to us. We ask that lights be kept dim, noise be kept to a minimum, the door be kept closed for privacy.
We will bring our own music.
We are attempting to have a natural, un-medicated birth without unnecessary medical or chemical intervention.
We understand that there are procedures which may become necessary.
Except in the case of an emergency, we ask that we be given the opportunity to accept or refuse any procedure or medication.
Pain Management Goals:
We plan to handle pain with relaxation, massage and water (shower or tub).
The mother prefers not to have an episiotomy unless determined to be medically necessary. She would first like to try perineal massage, support and warm compresses.
We would like the staff to help the mother change position if necessary to facilitate breastfeeding.
We would like the father to be allowed to take photos or videotape parts of the labor and birth.
There should be no video or photography near the mother’s vaginal area.
Newborn Care Goals:
Please delay the eye medication and vitamin K shot until we have spent some time with the baby. We do wish for these medications to be administered.
C-section Goals (if absolutely medically necessary):
The mother would like to be conscious
The mother would like the father present.
We would prefer that our baby breastfeed immediately or as soon as possible afterward in the recovery room.
We prefer the baby and father remain in the recovery room with the mother.
We discussed the above with the midwife yesterday, and we are ready to go. She was open to our ideas and of course made suggestions of her own for things we forgot. We also had questions that she had never heard before so don’t be afraid to ask anything when making your birth plan with your provider. I know I certainly didn’t have enough information about what it would be like to donate the placenta to someone, and I now know that I won’t be doing it.
My best advice is to know what is most important to you and go from there.