As you know from reading The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama: Redefining the Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum Journey, I am not a huge fan of the term birth plan. Plans do not always... well, go to plan, and the last thing on earth that I want for you is to feel like somehow you failed your birth.
Spoiler alert: That is impossible.
I am a huge fan of you feeling empowered and actively involved in the decision of your birth. That's why I think it's a great ides to develop a birth plan, or your birth preferences, ahead of time.
As promised in The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama, here is a birth plan worksheet that you can fill out and present to your team. Use the questions below to guide you as you complete the worksheet (and chapter 25 of the book for a more detailed explanation of each item). And try to make it relaxing and fun. Make yourself a cup of Crystal Karge's delicious ginger tea (page 119), sit back, and daydream about how you'd love your birth to be.
Download your birth plan worksheet here:
10 questions to consider when writing your birth plan:
1. Where would you like to give birth? Would you prefer a doctor or a midwife?
Your place of birth and who catches your baby can play a significant role in what your birth—and prenatal care—will be like, so spend some time considering what you think you might want.
Check out this guide to help you decide where to labor!
2. Who will attend your birth?
Besides your medical team, who would you like to be with you during your birth? Consider the people that bring good energy with them, are good at supporting you, and well, don't stress you out. Remember, you don't owe it to anyone to invite them to your birth. You are the boss!
People to consider inviting: your partner, friends, family members, a doula.
Are you thinking about working with a doula? Read why more mamas are working with doulas.
And visit page 183 in The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama for a reminder on how to make the "who should I invite to my birth" decision.
3. How do you feel about pain medication such as epidurals + opioids?
Perhaps you know that you want an epidural, or maybe you are sure that you do not. Or maybe, like many mamas-to-be, you are undecided. It is important to include your thoughts about pain medication in your birth plan so that your team can best support you. (Return to chapter 22 for an in-depth look at all of your options).
Another factor to consider is: Would you like people to offer them to you, or do you prefer to initiate the conversation if desired?
For example, if you are planning to have an unmedicated birth, would it be irritating if people were to ask you if you want an epidural every hour? Or, would you find it comforting to be reminded that it's an option?
Consider what works best for you, and then tell your team so they can act accordingly.
4. What coping skills do you want to use?
In chapter 22 of The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama, we discussed coping skills at length. Which ones sounded the most appealing to you?
Remember, try to practice as many of them as you can, because you may be surprised to find that the coping skill you were initially annoyed by becomes your favorite one to use when you are in labor.
5. Are there any interventions you have strong feelings about?
Review the intervention in chapter 23 of The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama, and pay attention to how your body feels as you read through them. Are there any that concern you more than others? Write them down in this space—then share your concerns with your doctor or midwife (as soon as possible). They may have some great info to relieve your worries.
6. Given that the situation allows, would you like the following for your baby?
As you consider each item, feel free to click on the link to learn more about it. Then, discuss with your partner, a trusted friend and your healthcare team to make the decision that feels best for you and your family.
- Cord blood banking (give company/public bank name is so)
- Delayed-cord clamping
- Eye medication
- Vitamin K injection
- Hepatitis B vaccine
- Nursery or in-room care
You can also revisit page 326 which will point you to the page in The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama where each of these is discussed at length.
7. Do you have plans for your placenta?
More and more women are choosing to use their placentas after they give birth to them. It's important to convey this to your team ahead of time to prevent them from accidentally throwing it out.
Some placenta traditions to consider are:
8. Do you have specific requests for your birth?
What might make your birth feel incredibly special to you? Here are a few examples to consider:
- Using a mirror to watch yourself push
- Touching your baby's head as they emerge
- Gentle Cesarean section
- Helping to catch the baby
- Having your partner/family member help to catch the baby
- Partner cutting the umbilical cord
9. Are there cultural considerations the team should know about?
Healthcare workers sometimes forget to ask about the presence of cultural needs during the important life event of birth—so don't be shy if you have a need. Some aspects to consider:
- Do you observe the Sabbath, and will it impact your needs during your hospital or birth center stay?
- Do you prefer female caregivers when possible?
- Will you and your family need time and space to pray?
10. Is there anything else you'd like to share with the team?
Sometimes birth can bring challenging life situations to the surface in a way that can be upsetting or difficult to deal with.
Consider if you'd like to share any of this with your team ahead of time so that they can e as respectful and aware as possible during your birth.
Some examples may include:
- Are you a survivor of violence?
- Are there unique family dynamics or relationships that may come up over the course of your labor?
- What pronoun would you like the team to use for you?