If you’re expecting a baby soon and planning a hospital birth, it’s a good idea to prepare a birth plan.
What is a birth plan? A birth plan is a document you give to your doctor and hospital in order to put your wishes about your birth in writing. You can cover subjects such as the environment you’d like during labor (dim lights, having others present, walking around freely, etc.), your choices for pain management, whether you’d like an episiotomy, what procedures you’d like during and after birth, your breastfeeding preferences and much more.
While your doctor and hospital do not have to follow all of the instructions in your birth plan, this allows your wishes to be known.
As Your Birth Plan explains:
Filling out a birth plan gives you an opportunity to think about options and preferences that will help you create the best birth experience for you. A birth plan lets you explore options related to pain management, potential medical interventions, breastfeeding and recovery. It will help you think about different scenarios and what you would like to experience.
For example, some hospitals have their own protocol for babies after delivery so your birth plan will inform your birth team ahead of time that you may want to watch the birth with a mirror, hold the baby immediately after birth begin breastfeeding right away.
It is important to show your birth plan to your doctor well in advance of having your baby. This gives you a chance to discuss your decisions with your doctor, find out if your doctor is not going to agree to any of your choices and also find out if any of your choices go against hospital policy.
Here’s an assortment of free birth plans around the web to choose from:
Just Mommies provides a fairly thorough birth plan with many preferences listed.
Your Birth Plan has a simple PDF birth plan you can print and use to check off your preferences.
Baby Fit has a somewhat comprehensive, customizable birth plan you can create online.
Babies Online has a basic checklist-style birth plan you can print and fill out.
Parent 24 has a six-page, large print birth plan in PDF form you can print and check off.
Baby Center has a fairly comprehensive printable PDF birth form that includes options such as storing cord blood.
The Naval Medical Center of Portsmouth offers a printable PDF birth plan that also includes some additional information, such as preferences in the event the baby is sick and delayed eye care.
The Bump offers an extremely detailed, colorful PDF birth plan. This is one of the most specific birth plans available, with instructions regarding vaccines, pain relief during circumcision, pumped breastmilk given if baby is not well, laxatives given post-delivery and much more.
Women’s Health Care Topics offers a printable birth plan that is also fairly comprehensive.
Childbirth.org offers an interactive birth plan.
You are free to use these and simply print them out, or you can use them as inspiration to create your own typed birth plan.
Either way, be sure to make it up well in advance, since babies don’t always arrive when scheduled!
Next time: Cesarean birth plans