Now that you're prepping for your baby's birth, you've probably planned everything out: your baby's name, what car seat to buy, which baby clothes to get, your nursery theme, etc.
But, if you haven't planned out what will happen on your big day, I'm here to help you create your birth preferences or, as I call it a Birth Map, so nothing surprises you (hopefully).
Here are some checklists I've outlined, so you don't have to spend so much time doing your research!
Why I am here and who I am:
Hey mama, I am Trish— AKA Labor Nurse Mama. I am a labor and delivery nurse with over 15 years of high-risk OB experience. I am also a mama to 7 kids and have given birth to 6. This means I am quite familiar with the postpartum period and how to navigate it. I am the online birth class educator for Calm Labor Confident Birth and The VBAC Lab birth classes and the mama expert inside our Calm Mama Society, a pregnancy & postpartum membership community! I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey! You can find me over on IG teaching over 230k mamas daily. I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey!
We make a small commission from some of the links (you don’t pay any more for using our links); however some of the recommendations, we do not earn anything; we love ’em and want you to know about them. Click here for our full disclosure. Thank you!
What is a birth plan?
The first question that might pop up in your head is, what the heck is a birth plan? If you have been prepping through each trimester and finding out what to do when a birth plan is probably already on your radar.
A birth plan is a document you create before you have a baby. It helps you plan for any medical procedures, labor, delivery, and pain management options, giving the medical team information about your preferences.
Most importantly, this allows you to familiarize yourself and get educated prior to your birth experience. Do not create a birth map without taking your birth class first. This is the most important tip I have for you today.
I can't tell you how many times I have had a patient hand me a birth map (plan) and when I talk with her about her preferences and how I can help advocate for her choices, I realize she has no clue why she put that preference into her plan, minus she clicked a box online.
The truth is this:
YOU CAN REFUSE OR ACCEPT WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE! That is your right.
But should you? Do you know what, when, and why that intervention or policy is for? You should. Do not refuse because you can. Know your stuff!!
Do you need to create a birth plan?
No matter what type of birth you're planning, it's a good idea to have a birth plan.
Contrary to popular belief, birth plans can be used for BOTH C-sections and vaginal delivery!
I recommend you have one because it's one way to healthily communicate your boundaries and preferences to your healthcare team and make sure everyone is on the same page. Listen, mama, during labor, your job is to labor, not fight for your rights.
When creating a birth plan or birth map, there are many things to consider. The first step is to decide what's important to you. What are your priorities? What are your concerns? Once you've identified your priorities, you can start to put together your birth plan checklist.
Some things to consider include:
- How do you want to manage pain during labor?
- What are your preferences for fetal monitoring?
- Do you want to be able to move around during labor?
- Who do you want in the delivery room with you?
- Do you want to use any medical interventions, such as epidural anesthesia or forceps?
- Do you want to breastfeed, pump milk, or use formula for your baby?
- Have you explored different birthing positions before? If so, which one are you comfortable doing?
- What are your preferences for postpartum care?
- How do you feel about using forceps, a vacuum, or an episiotomy?
Once you've decided what's important to you, it's time to start putting together your birth plan.
What information should a birth plan include?
Before creating a birth plan, do your research on available labor and delivery options ahead of time. Give yourself a tour of the hospital or birthing center and find out their procedures and practices. (Hint: You can break hospital policy!) Do they have labor and birthing equipment, like a tub or shower, birthing balls, or birth stools? Do they offer nitrous oxide for pain relief during labor? Are there limits on how many people can be in the delivery room at one time? This will help you determine what you want for your labor and delivery, and what to include in your birth plan.
1. Choose who you want in the delivery room with you. This may be just your partner or you may want to include other family members or friends, and even your doula.
2. Decide if you want to use pain medication during labor. If so, what kind?
3. Think about whether or not you want to have an epidural.
4. Pick the position you would like to deliver in – there are many options!
5. Do you have a preference for cord blood banking?
6. What are your thoughts on circumcision?
7. Do you want a delayed cord clamping? If so, how long?
8. Would you like to breastfeed immediately after birth? Are you okay with supplementation?
1. Research your options for pain relief during labor. This will help you determine what you would like to include in your birth plan.
2. Choose a care provider you are comfortable with and who will support your birth plan.
3. Attend a childbirth class to learn more about the process of labor and delivery.
4. Write out your birth plan and share it with your care provider and support people.
5. Pack your hospital bag with everything you will need for yourself and your baby.
1. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and eating light meals.
2. Practice relaxation techniques or use pain relief measures as needed.
3. Focus on your breath and listen to your body to help you through each contraction.
4. Have faith in yourself and your ability to give birth!
5. Ask for complementary alternatives like meditation, massages, hot or cold therapy, and breathing techniques.
It is important to remember that just because you decided to create a birth plan no birth plan is set in stone. You may have to change your plans based on what happens during labor or just because you want to. For example, you may need to have a C-section if there are complications. However, it is still helpful to have a plan so that you and your partner know what you want and can advocate for yourselves if necessary.
Some questions to consider during labor:
1. Do you want to be able to move around during labor or stay in one place?
2. Do you want to use pain medication? If so, which kind?
3. Who do you want in the room with you during labor?
4. What kind of music do you want to play?
5. What position do you want to be in when you give birth?
6. Do you want to see the baby immediately after birth or wait a while?
7. Do you want your partner or another support person to cut the cord?
For some women, the idea of having a medical intervention during childbirth is unthinkable. For others, it is a necessary part of the birth process. Many different types of medical interventions can be used during childbirth, and it is essential to understand all of your options before you create your birth plan.
Some common medical interventions that can be used during childbirth include:
- Induction – This is when medication is used to stimulate labor.
- Epidural – This is when pain medication is administered through a catheter in the spine.
- Forceps or vacuum delivery – These are tools that can be used to assist in the delivery of the baby.
- Cesarean section – This is when the baby is delivered through an incision in the abdomen.
It is important to discuss all of your options with your healthcare provider before you make any decisions about your birth plan. They will be able to help you understand the risks and benefits of each option so that you can make an informed decision about what is right for you and your baby.
There are a variety of ways to manage pain during labor and delivery. Some women opt for natural methods, while others prefer medication. Be sure to discuss your options with your healthcare provider ahead of time so that you can make an informed decision about what’s right for you. You can grab my free workbook all about your pain management options by clicking here.
There are a variety of medications that can be used to help manage pain during labor and delivery. These include:
- Epidural: This is a type of regional anesthesia that numbs the lower half of your body. It’s the most common form of pain relief used during labor and delivery.
- Spinal block: This is another type of regional anesthesia that numbs the lower half of your body. It’s not as common as an epidural, but it may be an option if you’re unable to have an epidural.
- IV Narcotics: These are medications that are taken intravenously (through an IV) to help relieve pain throughout your body. They’re not as effective as regional anesthesia, but they may be an option if you’re unable to have an epidural or spinal block.
- Breathing exercises
There are many things to consider when you create a birth plan and it can be overwhelming. To help simplify the process, we've created a checklist of items to think about when creating your plan.
1. Who do you want in the room with you during delivery?
2. Do you want to use pain medication during labor? If so, what kind?
3. What position do you want to deliver in?
4. How do you want to handle cord blood and placenta?
5. Do you have any specific requests after the delivery?
In case of a C-section:
It is essential to have a basic education about cesareans; this is why we include this in our two signature birth classes. I can not tell you how many times I have had to take a patient back to the OR and she looks like a deer caught in the headlights because she never once considered this could happen. We also have a full signature “Belly Birth” birth class.
It breaks my heart, and I am busy prepping her, so I have little time to educate her.
Choices you can make about your cesarean delivery:
- how to get to the operating room
- conversations during the surgery
- medications used to sedate you
- Being strapped down or having your arms free
- skin-to-skin in the OR
- delayed cord clamping
- clear drapes
- and more
-Breastfeeding or bottle feeding? If breastfeeding, will you use a breast pump?
– Circumcision (if applicable). Who will perform the procedure?
– Bathing: when to do it, and who will bathe the baby?
– Cutting the cord
– Vitamin K or not?
– Hepatitis B vaccine?
– Eye ointment
These are just a few considerations for your birth plan. Talk with your partner and healthcare provider about what's suitable for you and your baby.
Who Should Review My Birth Plan?
Your birth plan should be reviewed by anyone who will be involved in your delivery. That includes the doctor or midwife, any nurses who are working that day, and any other healthcare provider who might need to know about your birth preferences.
It's important you choose to create a birth plan that you have a copy of your birth plan on hand so that if anyone needs it quickly they can easily find it. Once you give it to your provider or nurse, it will be added to your cart.
Who Needs a Copy of My Birth Plan?
The person who is going to be present at the birth should have a copy of your birth plan. This includes your partner or spouse, the doctor or midwife who will be assisting with the delivery, your support person, the doula, and any other medical professionals who may be in attendance (such as anesthesiologists or nurses).