Congratulations, you’ve made it to the third trimester! Now it’s time to write down your desires for the big day. This is a great tool to make sure your medical team understands your wishes for labor, birth and immediate postpartum care. One or two pages is best; it doesn’t have to be long. Because pregnancy is dynamic, you won’t be able to orchestrate everything, but you can set the scene for what your ideal labor and birth will look like.
Here are five things to include when creating your birth plan:
- Who your support group will be. It’s often helpful for your care team to be able to call people by name and know who’s invited to the birth.
- Plans for pain management. Flexibility here is important, but it’s also wise to think about your wishes in advance. Pain management can include using the labor tub or shower, knowing your progress before choosing medication or trying nitrous oxide first.
- Any special equipment? This could include a birth ball to sit on, a squat bar to hold on to while pushing, or a birth stool to help support a squatting position.
- Special requests. Do you want a mirror to watch or to receive the baby into your own hands? Does your partner want to help receive the baby or be the one to announce the gender or name if it’s a surprise?
- A contingency plan. If an induction or Cesarean section becomes necessary, what can give you a positive experience? For some women that means skin to skin contact as soon as possible and a visit from a lactation consultant the first day. One support person is usually invited to accompany mom to the operating room, so this and other standard procedures are not necessary to include in your plan.
It’s not a bad idea to bring your birth plan to a prenatal visit in the last month of pregnancy. A copy can easily be put in your chart, but don’t forget to bring an extra in your birth bag just in case. Happy birthing!
Bethany Sanders is a Certified Nurse Midwife and cares for women at the West End Women’s Health Center and Cole Family Practice. A graduate of Vanderbilt, she is thrilled to be back in Nashville after spending the last six years in rural Northeast Georgia. When not attending births or measuring pregnant bellies, she can be found at the local park chasing after her two-year-old son or talking about cloth diapers with anyone who will listen.