The Ultimate Birth Plan Checklist
Things To Consider In A Birth Plan Checklist.
So you’re expecting a baby! Yay – congratulations!! I know this is an extraordinarily emotional time – you might be feeling excited, but also anxious or nervous. Let me assure you, all the feelings are normal! You may get anxious because of the uncertainty that comes with having a new baby. There are so many expectations, and you may not know how best to prepare yourself. You want to ensure that you have planned for the baby in advance such that you don’t have to do things at the last minute. Having a birth plan checklist can help ease some of that anxiety. A birth plan checklist is like a guideline or map that will help you get to your destination, which in this case, is delivering the baby safely. You want to reduce the amount of stress you may have during your pregnancy and after pregnancy. Having a supportive partner is important because they may help you with ideas on creating a successful birth plan. Remember, as much as there may be detours along the way, having a birth plan will make it easier for you and your partner. It’s critical to remember that despite having a birth plan, things may not always go that way and that’s also normal! It’s still helpful because when a question arises or a decision needs to be made in the heat of the moment – you won’t need to think through the pros and cons because you already have. This also allows someone else to be your voice for what you need when you need to focus on birthing.
You might be thinking, ok great- so what should I include in my birth plan? And when should I start my birthing plan? Well, if you’re here, chances are now is a great time to start planning your birth! Below are some things you need to consider and include in your birth plan checklist.
Birth Plan Checklist: Before and During Birth
1.The Key People Involved.
It is crucial to identify the names and contacts of the people you would want to be involved in your pregnancy journey. Consider the professionals that you need to work with (do you want a doula? A birth photographer or videographer? Fresh 48 photos? Do you prefer a midwife or an OB?), the hospital or birthing center (Baby + Co is a nice local option!) you would want to birth your child in, and any family members that you may want to be with in the delivery room. Be sure to ask the birthing site the maximum number of people allowed to be in the delivery room. At this point, you also need to identify people you would not want to be involved in the delivery. Doing this will help calm you down, especially if those people do not bring you the peace you need.
When you are on the pregnancy journey, you need to control your space and the energy surrounding you. When you are calm, you become happier, and this helps to improve your general wellbeing. Identify the pediatrician and obstetrician or midwife you would like to work with, check for online reviews and learn about their practices. Identify professionals with excellent reviews from multiple sources. Also, you gain more confidence when you determine that the professionals you have chosen have successfully helped several mothers give birth and provide pediatric care.
2. Ideal Labor Environment.
As you create a birth plan, you need to identify where you would like to give birth. This varies from one person to another. Being able to identify your ideal labor environment and communicate it in advance to your partner and those in charge will enable them to prepare for this moment. Remember, you are doing all these to ease the birthing process. What does your ideal birthing site look like? Do you want to give birth in a hospital, birthing center, or home? Some couples opt to give birth at home with the assistance of a qualified physician. This option is good if you are in excellent health and have had low-risk pregnancies. If you are giving birth for the first time, you need to consider other options, such as a hospital, since there are risks associated with giving birth at home. Also, if you choose this option, you need to have a backup plan just in case a hospital is required. This isn’t said to scare you, but just so you have a plan if it’s needed.
If you want to give birth in a hospital, you can look for a hospital with birthing rooms that feel more like a bedroom. You can customize the hospital room by putting beautiful lights if those will calm you down. You can also request them to play your favorite music in the background. If you also want the room to be as quiet as possible, ensure this is clear to your partner and those who will be with you in the delivery room.
If you want a water birth, or the option to use water as part of your comfort management, be sure to consider that when choosing your location as some hospitals do not offer that.
3. Medication Preferences and Interventions
The birthing process is amazing, it’s incredible what our bodies can do! For some, it can be uncomfortable, and it may not always be easy. That is why you need to include your intervention and medication preferences in the birth plan. This includes if you want to use epidural and any other comfort techniques. If you do not want to use an epidural, you can find other comfort techniques that will work for you. I cannot recommend Hypnobabies enough if you’re interested in a low med or med free birth plan! If you’d like to hear more about that, please let me know! With Hypnobabies, you’ll start preparing several weeks prior to your guess date for baby’s arrival. Regardless of your medication preferences, Hypnobabies is wonderful to put a much more positive light on the birthing process.
Some interventions are medically necessary – but often times they are not. Make sure you speak to your provider and learn about all the possible interventions so you know when you are able to deny interventions you don’t want (unless medically necessary). I highly recommend evidence based care – those providers are very likely to listen to your wants and needs and consider interventions only when necessary.
4. Birthing positions
Discussing your preferred birthing positions is also critical. Make sure you note them down after discussing them with the provider. Also, please educate yourself on how to use those positions to make it easier for you during labor. If you choose to give birth in a birthing center, opt for those with unique beds designed for labor and delivery. These are ideal because you can raise and lower the bed to support the different labor positions. Birthing chairs are also good because they support women in squatting or sitting positions. They enable you to benefit from gravity and have a smooth laboring process. Some sites only allow one birthing position – flat on your back in a bed. If that’s not for you, you’ll want to know that in advance, so be sure to speak with your provider about the options available at their facility. I’ll remind you here to discuss water if that’s of interest to you!
Birth Plan Checklist: After Birth Considerations.
5. Do You Want Skin To Skin Time With Your Child Right Away?
Having skin-to-skin time (also known as kangaroo care) with your baby right away as opposed to swaddling them helps improve the physiologic stability of the infant and benefits both the mother and the child. Giving a mother and her child an uninterrupted first hour together is also recommended because it encourages bonding and helps to establish a healthy breastfeeding relationship, especially if you plan to nurse them. As much as skin-to-skin is recommended, please note it is not always ideal or possible. Letting your delivery team know in advance that you would like to have the first hour with your child will prepare them and allow them to grant you your wishes, if possible. As a mom who didn’t get this, I also want to share that in the situations it is genuinely not possible – the benefits of medical care far outweigh the skin to skin benefits so please do not let this get you down!
6. Delayed Cord Clamping
Are you interested in delayed cord clamping? There are benefits to it, when it is possible to do so. Some parents are all for it while others have different preferences. Here’s a study to read a bit more about it if you’d like! Be sure to speak with your provider about their policies on delayed cord clamping. It’s widely accepted in most facilities now, where it used to be less common, but there are still some who only do this when asked. Just be sure to include these decisions, whichever you make for your family, in your birth plan!
7. What, If Anything, Do You Plan To Do With The Placenta?
You can choose to do several things with the placenta after you give birth. This is all dependent on you and your beliefs. Some parents turn it into art, in the form of an imprint – which amazingly looks like a “tree of life.” Some choose not to do anything with it. Others choose to eat it, you can encapsulate it into a pill form or even add it to a smoothie and take it after birth. As much as there is no scientific proof on the benefits of consuming the placenta, most moms say that they feel a boost of energy after consuming it. Consult with your doctor beforehand. There are risks involved with eating your placenta, such as contamination or the spread of illness. If you are big on donations, you can also donate the placenta to be used in reconstructive procedures, ocular procedures, healing of wounds and burns, and spinal surgeries.
8. Screening Of The Newborn.
It is also good to have your child go through screening. It is a simple prick on the baby’s foot to gather blood to check for any genetic disorders or abnormalities. There are a few screenings that will be recommended to your family, based on the provider and your history – you can choose to have these delayed if you’re able to do skin to skin.
Creating a birth plan checklist is recommended for peace of mind, again, even if some things need to change along the way – you’ll be prepared with all the knowledge around your decisions and the potential alternatives.
This birth plan checklist should help you get started on your own birth plan – hopefully it sparks discussion for you, your partner and your provider to come together on all the necessary decisions during this exciting time in your journey!