Make due

Consider this your birth plan cheat sheet.

Planning for a birth can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! Think of your birth plan as more of a wish list than anything else: a layout of how you’d like things to go, with plenty of room for flexibility if necessary. Here’s what to include …

1. The basics

  • Your name
  • Your doctor’s, midwife’s and/or doula’s names
  • Any red flags your team should be aware of (group B strep, Rh incompatibility, gestational diabetes, etc.)
  • Who will be joining you in the delivery room (your partner, mom, birth photographer, etc.)

2. Laboring desires

  • Ambiance. Do you want low lighting, minimal conversation and soft music? Or a pumped-up playlist and a celebratory vibe?
  • Comfort. Would you prefer to labor in your own clothes or a hospital gown? Do you plan to move around frequently in early labor, or will you most likely rest in the bed?
  • Exams. Should your medical team limit vaginal examinations as much as possible, or would you like regular progress reports?
  • Medical staff. Are you open to “guest” staff members (students, residents, etc.), or would you prefer to stick to only your hands-on team?
  • IVs. Are you OK with an automatic IV, or would you rather go that route only if you’re dehydrated? How do you feel about a heparin or saline lock?
  • Fetal monitoring. Does your plan include continuous or intermittent fetal monitoring or monitoring only if baby is in distress? Internal or external?

3. Interventions

  • Are you open to the following medical interventions?
    • manual rupturing of membranes
    • oxytocin (Pitocin) to start or augment labor

4. Pain management

  • How do you feel about an epidural? Do you want one as soon as possible, only when absolutely necessary or not at all no matter what? Is a walking epidural a possibility?
  • If you choose to have an epidural, would you like it to wear off before it is time to push?
  • Consider whether any of the following might be an option for you:
    • acupressure or acupuncture
    • breathing techniques
    • hypnosis
    • massage
    • meditation
    • reflexology
    • other natural pain relief methods
  • Are you hoping to labor in the tub or shower to ease pains? Do you want to deliver in the water or move back to your bed before pushing?
  • Are you interested in non-epidural medication (such as Demerol)?

5. Tools

  • Will you be bringing along any of the following, or would you like to see if they are available at your place of delivery?
    • birthing ball
    • birthing stool
    • squatting bar

6. Delivery

  • Would you like direction from your medical team in pushing, or would you prefer to follow your body’s cues?
  • Do you want to use a mirror to see baby’s head emerge?
  • Do you want to reach down and touch baby as he crowns?
  • Do you or your partner want to catch the baby?
  • How do you feel about using the following to assist delivery:
    • perineal massage
    • vacuum
    • forceps
    • episiotomy

7. C-section

  • Even if a C-section isn’t in your plans, what conditions would constitute you approving a move to the OR?
  • Do you want to ensure all other options have been exhausted before taking the surgical delivery route?
  • Would you choose to stay conscious, if possible?
  • Would you like your hands to remain free, so you can touch baby?
  • Should your partner remain with you during the procedure and hold baby as soon as possible?
  • Would you like the screen lowered, so you can watch baby come out?

8. Cord care

  • Will your partner be cutting the cord?
  • Are you delaying cord cutting?
  • Are you banking or donating baby’s cord blood?
  • Would you like to see or keep the placenta?

9. Postbirth

  • Would you like to hold baby as soon as possible?
  • Would you like to breastfeed baby as soon as possible?
  • Would you prefer baby to be suctioned, weighed, cleaned off and administered eye drops/ointment before you hold him?

10. Newborn care

  • Should baby’s medical exam and procedures be performed only in the presence of you or your partner?
  • If baby is healthy, would you like to delay these procedures until you’ve had a chance to bond?
  • Which of the following newborn screening tests/medical procedures would you like your baby to have?
    • advanced heel stick
    • hearing screening
    • hepatitis B vaccine
    • vitamin K
    • antibiotic eye treatment
  • Can a nurse give baby his first bath, or do you want a family member to do it?
  • Will you be exclusively breastfeeding baby? Do you want to supplement with formula?
  • Do the nurses have your permission to give baby a pacifier in the nursery?
  • If you have a boy, would you like to have him circumcised? If so, would you like to use anesthesia?
  • In the event that baby needs to be transported to the NICU or another hospital, who will accompany him? Do you have any special requests for the staff?

By Sarah Granger


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