From prenatal vitamins, painting the nursery, and finding the trendiest diaper bag, you've got everything covered during your pregnancy. These essentials are ready to go, but what do you do when the big day comes and you get to the hospital? You've got a specific idea you what customized for this day, but what is a birth plan? Is it just a list of things you want? What does it entail?
According to the American Pregnancy Association, a birth plan is a guide of preferences you choose for the birth of your baby, which is given to everyone who will be involved with your birth, from family members to doctors, and provides a practical way to highlight your choices with those responsible for your care. It's suggested that you put a plan in place sooner, rather than later, because of the variety of issues involved in planning for your baby's birth day.
When giving birth to my first daughter I had no plan in place — I just kind of went with the flow. But with my second, I knew exactly what I wanted and I outlined those choices for my family and my new doctor. With my first born, my doctor performed a perineal massage during labor, which allowed me to give birth, stitch and tear free. My new doctor was all about giving me an episiotomy, so I made my birth plan to include the requisite of perineal massage and my disdain for knifing me during labor. It worked. She listened and she was prepared, because she knew exactly what I wanted.
What To Expect explained that there's no exact way to write a birth plan, and because every pregnant woman is different, birth plans can range from super simple to extremely detailed depending on individual situations. The website suggested that birth plans include any requests before birth, requests during labor, preferences regarding vaginal or C-section birth, and choices for newborn care.
What to Expect also noted that you should remember that birth plans are not written in stone, and that while there's a pretty good chance your birth plan will be carried out exactly the way you want it, there is also a chance that it may not. For example, your birth plan may outline the preference for a vaginal birth, but complications during labor could end up demanding the need for a C-section.
There are many other things you can add to your birth plan, including your preferences for pain medications to treat labor pains, any cultural or religious practices you require, or who you would like to stay with you in the labor room. What to Expect suggested starting with birth plan templates from Birth Plan and Earth Mama.
While every pregnancy and delivery is unpredictable, it's still important to know and outline how you want your baby's birth to go. Having a birth plan in place can make your big day go smoothly, and any amount of comfort that day will be a lot. Try not to stress over it.