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

Images: iStock.com



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