Writing out a birth plan isn’t something that is required for giving birth but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great idea for any woman who’s going to have a baby. Putting a birth plan together involves making a lot of decisions and sorting through a lot of options but in the end, the effort is well worth it. Let’s take a look at why a birth plan is a good idea and what goes into writing a birth plan.
Why You Should Write a Birth Plan
When it comes time to have a baby, the last thing on your mind is going to be all of the little details along the way. Even the big details like where you’re going to have the baby, what birthing method you want to use and things like that aren’t going to seem nearly as important as giving birth to your baby. There’s a reason for that – nothing could possibly be more important than bringing your baby into the world. That doesn’t mean you want to give up control of that birth and hope that things turn out the way you want them to.
Writing a birth plan helps you make all of the important decisions you’ll face when you go into labor in advance so you can focus on giving birth when the time comes. If there is someone in your life that is going to be with you when you give birth, it’s a good idea to sit down with that person and create the birth plan together. In the end, what decisions you make will be up to you but having someone that you can discuss your options with is never a bad idea. This person will also be able to tell anyone involved with delivering your baby what you want if you find that you’re not able to do so yourself.
Finally, here’s what writing a birth plan won’t do – make everything do according to plan. It is impossible to predict everything that could happen after you go into labor. You need to be able to keep an open mind when it comes time to have your baby and in a lot of ways, writing your birth plan can really help with that. In researching your options, you’ll discover what other options you have out there. Having a back up birth plan or having a back up for various options that may change on the big day will help you plan for the unexpected as much as you possibly can.
Where Do You Want to Give Birth?
Boy if there’s one option on your birth plan that could change, it’s this one. Sometimes a baby decides to make its entrance into the world at the most inopportune time. This is how some mothers wind up giving birth in elevators or in the backseats of cars. Even so, it’s a good idea to put this one on your birth plan anyway, even though Baby might not really allow you to have what you had in mind. Some of your options for where to give birth include:
- The Hospital: Clearly a popular choice as the maternity ward at your local hospital likely has all of the most up-to-date equipment and trained staff members on hand to help you with whatever you may need help with. Many hospitals will have options in place to make giving birth as comfortable for new mothers as possible.
- At Home: At home births are growing in popularity as more women are beginning to see the appeal in a more natural kind of birth. Giving birth at home can also be much less expensive than a hospital birth although you’re likely going to need a doctor, midwife, nurse or other qualified professional on hand. It’s really a matter of health and safety. If something goes wrong, you’re going to want to have someone there to help you through it.
- A Midwife Run Facility: This can be a nice middle ground option for a mother looking for a more natural birth but isn’t entirely sold on the idea of a home birth. It’s also generally much, much less expensive than a hospital birth. The equipment isn’t always quite as up-to-date as the equipment in a hospital but it will be enough to make sure you have the help you need should something go wrong. This option is generally only open to women who foresee a normal birth experience, meaning, if you have a medical condition or if complications are expected to aside, you won’t be able to give birth in a midwife run facility.
Choosing where you want to give birth is a step you’re really going to want to do your research for. Look at all of your options and choose the one that is within your budget that you can be comfortable with.
How Do You Want to Deliver Your Baby?
There was a time when there were only two real options available for delivery – straight forward vaginal birth and cesarian section. That time has passed. There are now several options available to women who are about to have a baby. Choosing which delivery method that’s right for you means learning as much as you can about the options available to you and making the decision you find most appealing. Some of the options available to you include:
- Delivery Bed: Delivery beds have really changed over the years. In the past you only had one option – lie on your back with legs in stirrups and push. It was definitely not the most appealing option for most women as it forced the mother to put a lot more strain on her abdominal muscles. Since that time however, delivery beds have changes to allow for a variety of positions so the woman has a little more control and so the bed can be adjusted to suit the situation.
- Water Birth: Water births are becoming far more popular because for some women, it is far more comfortable. The warm water makes contractions feel less painful and allows the woman giving birth to relax a little bit and work with the contractions she’s experiencing. Women can choose to sit in a tub or float in a specialized birthing pool. You can also choose to stay in the tub throughout delivery or get out to deliver. Make sure you check in advance to make sure water births are allowed and get details on what is allowed for water births if you plan to deliver in a maternity ward or midwife facility.
- Cesarian Section: C-sections were, at one point in time, only really an option for a woman with medical issues or if there was a problem that couldn’t be corrected during vaginal birth but that is starting to change now. Some women are scheduling cesarian sections well in advance for medical reasons or so that they can have their baby on a specific date. Recovering from a cesarian section isn’t much different than recovering from a more traditional vaginal birth. You can read the article about c-section recovery by clicking here.
I’ve only really scratched the surface here in regards to delivery options. There are many, many more options out there. If you’re not sure what’s right for you, discuss your options with your doctor.
What Delivery Position Do You Want to Use?
Just like everything else on this list, there are several delivery options you can choose from. Some of these options include:
- Lying On Your Back: This was once the most common position and while it still is, that’s starting to change. There are a few disadvantages you should be aware of before choosing this option. Your body has to work a lot harder during delivery in this position because you have to raise your shoulders and chest when pushing and gravity doesn’t help you out with the process at all. It might still be the right option for you though. Just something to consider.
- Sitting: Sitting up while giving birth means you don’t have to raise your upper body while pushing like you would lying down and you get a helping hand from gravity in this position. The main disadvantage of sitting up while giving birth is that it’s sometimes more difficult for the doctor or midwife to monitor your progress during the birth process.
- Squatting: Squatting has become increasingly popular among new mothers because it takes a lot of pressure off your body when pushing. It can be hard on the back and knees though. It’s a good idea to have a birthing stool handy just in case you find your knees and back are getting too sore. You can also ask your partner to kneel behind you and help support you by holding you under the arms. This provides not only additional support but also offers closeness between you and your partner as you give birth.
- Kneeling: Getting on your hands and knees is a great option for your birthing position. It eliminates the need to raise your upper body during pushes, brings in the help of gravity but also allows you the ability to relax and rest between pushes. Many women are choosing this option simply because it’s so much easier than other options.
What Options Do You Want to Use for Pain Relief?
Some women report not feeling much pain at all while giving birth. Those women are exceptions to the rule. For most women, having a baby means experiencing a whole lot of pain. While there are medications that can help, you may want to consider other options. Some potential options for non-medicated pain relief include:
- Walking or standing up
- Sitting in a tub with warm water
Of course, these options aren’t always enough. A natural birth is appealing but if the pain is just too much, there is no shame in using medication to help you get through it.
Miscellaneous Things to Think About for your Birth Plan
We’ve covered the big ones, but there are lots of other things you should think of when coming up with your birth plan. Some additional questions to ask include:
- Will you be breastfeeding?
- Will someone be videotaping the birth?
- Will your partner be cutting the umbilical cord?
- Will the baby be placed on your stomach once it’s delivered?
There are a lot of things to think about but writing a birth plan in advance will help you prepare and will help you get a lot of those questions out of the way in advance.