Essential Topics to Cover in Your Birth Plan

Part of the Birth Plans For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Keeping in mind all the topics you want to cover in your birth plan can be overwhelming. Having a reference list of the most common issues of labor and delivery can help. Use this list of birth-plan topics to help guide you as you write your own. Remember that you should only include issues that are important to you, and if something essential for your plan isn’t on this list, go ahead and include it in your birth plan.

  • The important people: At the top of your birth plan, include your name, your partner’s name, your medical practitioner’s name, and any essential birth guests, like your doula or your children (if they are attending).

  • Your ideal birth vision: If you’re planning a natural childbirth — or, alternatively, planning to use an epidural at your birth — say so at the very top of your birth plan. Your ideal birth vision sets the tone for the entire birth, so it belongs front and center.

  • Birth-environment requests: You may want to dim the lights, control noise in the room, limit (or include) guests, close the door to the hallway, play music, or use aromatherapy.

  • Food, drink, and IV: Indicate in your birth plan if you want to accept routine IV fluids or an IV saline lock. If your medical practitioner or birth location approve, you may include requests to drink or eat light foods during labor.

  • Cervical checks: You can request to limit cervical checks or to ask that no nursing or medical students perform them.

  • Fetal monitoring: You may write in your birth plan that you consent to continuous monitoring or prefer intermittent monitoring (best for when you plan on staying active during labor). Depending on your medical practitioner’s willingness, you may request that fetal heart tones be checked by Doppler, a telemetry monitoring unit, or a fetoscope.

  • Induction and speeding along labor: You may request that labor be allowed to progress naturally. You can ask that natural ways of speeding up labor — like nipple stimulation or movement — be tried before oxytocin (Pitocin).

  • Episiotomy: Your birth plan should note whether you want an episiotomy or prefer to tear naturally. You can also include how you intend to prevent tearing, like by use of certain pushing positions or with perineal support or compresses.

  • Cesarean section: If you’re planning a vaginal birth, your birth plan should address what you want in the case of a C-section, including whether you want to try alternative options before surgery in a non-emergency situation. Your birth plan may also want to include what you want if a C-section is required, like who will be with you during surgery, whether you want the drape lowered so you can watch the birth, or if you want to try breast-feeding on the surgical table.

  • Pushing preferences: You can include in your birth plan pushing positions you hope to try. You can also indicate whether you prefer coached pushing or instinctive pushing.

  • Cutting the cord: Note if you want to let the cord finish pulsing before it’s clamped and cut. You can also include who you want to cut the cord.

  • Placenta: Your birth plan may ask that control cord traction not be used and that the placenta be allowed to be delivered naturally. You can ask to see the placenta or take it home.

  • Receiving your baby: You can request in your birth plan that the baby be placed on your chest right after birth. You can also request that initial evaluations occur while the baby is in your arms.

  • Washing and weighing your baby: You can ask that weighing and washing your baby wait until after you’ve had time to bond. You can also request that the baby not be washed at all.

  • Shots and drops: Your birth plan should discuss which shots and tests you want your baby to have, including your preferences for vitamin K, antibiotic eye drops, hepatitis-B vaccination, and PKU testing.

  • Circumcision: Indicate in your birth plan whether you want your baby circumcised by the hospital.

  • Feeding your baby: Your birth plan should say whether you plan to breast-feed, bottle-feed, or do a little of both. You may also include a request to avoid unnecessary formula supplementations.

  • Partial versus full rooming-in: Your birth plan should say whether you want your baby with you around the clock (full rooming-in) or if you prefer the baby to sleep in the nursery (partial rooming-in).

  • Taking photos and video: Your birth plan can indicate your plans for taking photos or video during birth, including whether you’ve signed any necessary paper work required by the hospital for liability issues.

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