Do I really need a birth plan?

And what is a birth plan, anyway? Brittany B. gets some answers.

I’m in the final stretch before meeting Baby B. and one of the last decisions my husband and I had to make is about preferences for our birth plan for Baby B.’s arrival.

Many women begin thinking about their birth plans early in their pregnancies. I am not one of those women. I was focused on ensuring Baby B. was healthy and making it to the third trimester. Doing research around birthing options wasn’t a priority. Should it have been? Maybe. But I also think that in the back of my head I already knew what I wanted to do, or at least what I believed I wanted to do.

However, as I started doing some research around what’s included in a birth plan, I realized I knew very little about what I was actually planning for. (Thank goodness for online resources and the childbirth classes we attended!)

Luckily, Norton Women’s Care provides a guide to developing a birth plan, which we used, along with other information from our prenatal class learning for making decisions about the arrival of Baby B.

My husband and I first asked about developing a birth plan during my 34-week appointment, and my OB/GYN recommended reviewing the birth plan provided by Norton Healthcare with the goal of discussing the details during my 36-week appointment.

We considered several points as we thought about our birth plan:

  • What are the standard practices and procedures for labor and delivery at our hospital? Are there any standard practices or procedures we disagree with? Most of this information was provided during our childbirth classes, which was very helping in understanding the hospital policies.
  • Who do we want to be present at the birth of Baby B.? Is the list different for before and during labor versus during delivery?
  • Do we want a doula (a specially trained woman who assists during childbirth)? What are our preferences around other support/medical staff, including medical students or residents?
  • What is my planned method of delivery?
  • Laboring decisions:
    • Do I have any position preferences?
    • Focal points and/or music during labor
    • Fetal monitoring
    • Pain relief and pain medications
    • Delivery/birthing positions and delivery preferences
    • Immediately after delivery decisions:
      • Who’s cutting the umbilical cord?
      • Saving cord blood?
      • Breastfeeding
      • Skin-to-skin contact
      • C-section decisions, if necessary

Luckily, several decisions were easy to make because policies at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital lined up with what we wanted. For example, I want to be able to participate in skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth and try to breastfeed as soon as possible. Both of these actions are encouraged and supported as part of the labor and delivery process at the hospital.

Even if something happens and we end up needing a C-section, my husband can have immediate skin-to-skin contact with Baby B. while I’m being moved to recovery.

Talking over the birth plan with my spouse was helpful to understand his perspective and help us both understand what could happen during the birth of Baby B. He has been committed to being next to me every step of the way, and making decisions around our birth plan preferences was no exception.

Once we finally had our birth plan decisions in place, we discussed it all with my OB/GYN. With all of our decisions on paper, we were one step closer down the path of meeting our tiny human.

In my mind, one great thing about having a birth plan is that you don’t have to be constantly thinking about making decisions on the fly. You, your partner and your physician have already discussed the decisions you’ve made (or hope for) and your ideas around the birth of your baby.

When the time comes for Baby B. to arrive, I’ll have the support and encouragement of both my partner and physician on our birth plan.

We are excited to continue to look forward to the arrival of Baby B. and hope that his or her birth goes as smoothly as possible.


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