What to Include On Your Birth Plan

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Writing a birth plan, or a list of your preferences and desires for labor, can feel like a daunting task! There are so many topics to cover, and it can be hard to narrow down. We suggest that you start by taking a class to understand your options, and begin to decide what your priorities are.

There is no right or wrong way to write a birth plan. It is really just a tool to aid in communication, and to help you explore your options before the birth! It will help to take the pressure off during labor to figure things out. 

Below you will find some of the big topics we think are important to think about as you begin to write a birth plan. Your first step will be to find out what your hospital's standard policies are. If you don't know, talk to your doctor or midwife, ask on your tour, or talk to your doula. If you want something that is standard policy, it doesn't need to be on your written birth plan. You should save that space for the things that are important to you that might not be standard (but could still totally be an option!)

Labor

  • Comfort measures you would like to use during labor.
    • Water therapy options
    • Birth ball & peanut ball
    • Freedom of movement during labor
    • Hot & cold therapy
    • The use of other tools such as rebozo, music, lighting, essential oils, etc.
  • Food and water preferences during labor.
  • What you would like to wear in the hospital.
  • Fetal monitoring policies and options.
  • IV policies and options.
  • Vaginal exams policies and options during pregnancy and labor.
  • Preferences about having your water broken during labor by the provider.
  • Pain Medication
    • Do you want it to be offered, or do you want to be the on to request it?
    • What medical pain management options are available to you at your birth location?
      • Epidural
      • IV Narcotis
      • Nitrous Oxide

Birth

  • Pushing and delivery positions.
    • Is there a standard position, or can you push in any position?
    • Do you want a water birth, and is that an option at your birth location?
  • Video and photography preferences. 
  • Perineal support during pushing.
  • Special preferences about who will "catch" the baby.
  • Cord clamping timing, and who you would like to cut the cord.
  • Special preferences about who will announce the sex of the newborn.
  • Special preferences about putting the newborn on your chest, and the timing of newborn procedures.

Placenta Delivery

  • Management of the delivery of the placenta.
    • Do you have any special requests about how this stage of labor is handled?
  • Options for saving the placenta to plant, use for art, or encapsulate or otherwise consume.
  • Cord blood banking options.

Cesarean

  • Support persons you would like to be present.
  • Any requests for photos or video.
  •  Music available
  • Drape options.
    • Is a clear drape available?
    • Is it an option to have the drape lowered at the time of the birth?
  • Special requests for who will announce the sex of the newborn.
  • Delayed cord clamping and special requests about who will cut the cord.
  • Skin-to-skin or breastfeeding options in the OR.

Newborn Care

  • Where your baby will stay while in the hospital.
    • Rooming-In
    • Nursery (if available)
  • Your preferences regarding pacifier use and artificial nipples
  • Circumcision if you are having a boy.
  • Special requests regarding the timing of the routine newborn procedures.
    •  Vitamin K
    •  Hepatitis B
    •  Erthromycin ointment
    •  Metabolic screening
    •  Hearing screening
    •  Glucose testing
  • Preferences about the timing of baby's first bath.
  • Preferred feeding method for the newborn.

Postpartum Care

  • If you would like an IBCLC visit in the hospital.
  • How long you would like to stay (the maximum or minimum number of days allowed).
  • Whether or not your hospital and insurance offer a home visit from a nurse.

If writing a birth plan feels overwhelming, get in touch with us! We are familiar with the policies of all of the major hospitals in the Cincinnati and Dayton area. We also offer monthly Birth Plan & Comfort Measures Workshops, to help you write your birth plan.