Congratulations on your pregnancy! This is a really exciting time and chances are that you’re spending some (okay, a lot of) time planning and preparing for your baby’s arrival. However, you may not yet have thought about what you want the actual birth to look like, which is for many parents a transformative and life-changing experience. So, it’s definitely worthwhile to spend some time thinking about what it is that would make you feel comfortable, empowered, and at ease. Writing these thoughts and preferences down is frequently referred to as a “Birth plan”:
In essence, your birth plan should capture all things you want and don’t want: provider (midwife or OB-GYN), labor support team, tools, atmosphere, music, and anything else that you feel is important to make you comfortable. You should also be clear on things you don’t want which could include (but are not limited to): breaking of your water, continuous fetal monitoring, or residents checking your cervix. It’s often easiest to capture these thoughts in writing so you are able to communicate them more easily – before you go into labor, as well as when you arrive at the hospital or birth center and may encounter a new face. Your plan should also include how you want your baby cared for right after birth. Unless in an emergency, you may want to decide who cuts the umbilical cord, what to do with the placenta, and if you want your baby to stay skin-to-skin with you during the first couple of hours.
It can also be beneficial to think of a backup plan in case your birth doesn’t go exactly how you envisioned (e.g., you require a c-section or need to be induced). You can still create an experience that is meaningful and supportive to you by deciding things you want such as having your baby skin-to-skin right away after it is born, a “gentle cesarean” option, or if you want music to play.
If you are unsure about your preferences and options, speak with your Alimus doula who can provide a lot of information or do research on your options yourself. The more you know about your options, the better you will be equipped to decide what is right for you and your baby. Most importantly, be sure to talk to your provider and your labor support team about your optimal birth experience, your baby’s care, and things that are off the table. Having open conversations upfront will help avoid situations that make you uncomfortable or worse, feel traumatic to you. It may also help identify early on if your provider or your support team is or is not the right fit for you and possibly needs to be adjusted.
Lastly, know that a birth plan is a just a plan after all, and it may change during your pregnancy or even as labor progresses. You have the right to change your mind. If you do, we recommend using the BRAIN method to ask questions to evaluate your options along the way (read more here).
If you are looking for a ideas how to get started on creating your own birth plan, here are a few templates we like:
*Disclaimer: Any content provided by Alimus.org is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for personalized medical advice by your doctor, midwife, or other healthcare professional. Click return to homepage.