Creating Your Birth Plan and Birth Preferences for Labor and Delivery

Create Your Dream Birth Plan: Understand Your Options and Know Your Preferences!

What is a birth plan?

A birth plan is a document that outlines your preferences and wishes for labor, delivery, and postpartum care. While childbirth can be unpredictable and things donโ€™t always go to โ€œplanโ€, having a birth plan can help you communicate your desires with your partner, friends, family, and healthcare team and feel more empowered and in control during the birthing process.

Before creating your birth plan, it's essential to educate yourself about the various options and interventions available during labor and delivery in order to make the best choices for YOU. Here are some things to consider:

Pain Management

Research different pain relief options, such as epidurals, nitrous oxide, and hydrotherapy, as well as natural coping techniques like breathing exercises and massage. Consider which methods align with your preferences pain management when it comes to pain tolerance.

Labor Environment

Environment makes a HUGE difference in all aspects of life, but especially when delivering your baby this could not be more important to consider. The best place to begin is to think about your ideal labor environment, including whether you prefer to be in a hospital setting, a birthing center, or in the comforts of your home for an at home birth. Next, consider factors such as privacy, access to support persons, and the availability of medical interventions. Once you have established those, consider (often overlooked things) lighting, sound (do you prefer music or silence), and warmth. ย 

Labor Positions

Explore different labor positions that can help facilitate a smoother and more comfortable birthing experience. Options may include standing, squatting, kneeling, using a birthing ball, or utilizing a water birth tub. Knowing all your options can help you choose what will make you feel most comfortable for when the time comes.ย 

Interventions

Familiarize yourself with common medical interventions such as induction of labor, fetal monitoring, episiotomy, and assisted delivery (forceps or vacuum extraction). Understand the potential benefits, risks, and alternatives to each intervention before going into labor so you can set and communicate your preferences in advance, and then make more informed decisions during labor, if need be.ย 

Postpartum Preferences

There are a few postpartum preferences that you may want to consider when creating your birth plan, such as skin-to-skin contact with your baby, delayed cord clamping, breast or bottle feeding initiation, and how you want to deliver the placenta. Knowing your postpartum preferences before you go into labor will help make those first moments with baby so much smoother and so much less stressful for you.ย 

There are also some key delivery and postpartum items that you may want to have packed in your hospital bag such as postpartum underwear or your own delivery and nursing gown.ย 

You can get all your self-care postpartum essentials here, as well as a pre-curated box of the most useful, must-have hospital bag essentials over at Rumbly. ๐Ÿ’œ

Communicating Your Preferences

Once you've educated yourself about your labor and delivery options, it's time to articulate your preferences in your birth plan. Here are some more tips for effectively communicating your wishes:

Be Clear and Concise: Use clear and straightforward language to express your preferences. Avoid overly technical terms and jargon that may be unfamiliar to your healthcare team.

Prioritize Your Preferences: Rank your preferences in order of importance to ensure that your essential wishes are communicated clearly. Focus on the aspects of labor and delivery that matter most to you.ย 

*Note: I always recommend after initial ranking to slim your list down to your top 5 preferences, and then your top 2, which really helps you in identifying what matters most to you.

Flexibility: While it's essential to outline your preferences, itโ€™s equally important to remember that you have to remain open to the possibility of unexpected changes and deviations from your plan. Childbirth is inherently unpredictable, and flexibility is key to adapting to new circumstances.

Discuss with Your Healthcare Provider: Review your birth plan with your healthcare team during prenatal appointments. Seek their input and guidance, and ensure that your plan aligns with the policies and procedures of your chosen birth setting.

Share Your Plan: Distribute copies of your birth plan to your healthcare team, including your obstetrician or midwife, your doula, your labor and delivery nurses, and support persons. Make sure everyone involved in your care is aware of your preferences.

And lastly, when the time comes, trust that you will be ready.ย 

Sending hugs,

marnie ๐Ÿ’œ

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