When we visit our hairdressers, we have directions for the style or colour we want and sometimes we even tote along pictures of celebs whose hairstyles we want to emulate. Some of us would not even dream of drinking our coffee black or our tea with milk so why should it be any different with our OB-GYNs? After all, the birthing process, while miraculous in bringing your bundle of joy into the world, will be awfully painful so why not make the whole experience as comfortable for you as possible?
A birth plan is a document that lists your preferences so that your health-care provider and the hospital staff will know how they can best accommodate your needs for childbirth and care of your baby. It is like a ‘wish list’ for delivery.
What does it include?
Keep the birth plan simple, realistic, and short, ideally less than one page. The birth plan usually covers the following issues:
1. Support people during your delivery: Who do you want with you during labour and do you want them with you the whole time or would you want them to leave the room at certain stages?
2. Pain relief and control: Would you like to have pain medication and if so, which order would you prefer them? Would you like to avoid anaesthesia unless you specifically ask for it?
3. Delivery position: How would you like to deliver your baby – lying, sitting, lying on your side, kneeling, squatting?
4. Medical interventions and assistance: If required to assist in the delivery of your baby, would you prefer forceps or vacuum? Would you want an injection to speed up the placenta delivery of the placenta or would you like to go natural through the third stage as well?
5. Unexpected situations: What if Caesarean or inducement becomes necessary? How do you feel about them? Would you like to avoid an episiotomy (a surgical procedure for widening the outlet of the birth canal between the vagina and the rectum) at all costs or only in a medical emergency?
6. Baby care: How should your baby be handled immediately after birth? Will you breast feed or bottle feed the baby?
7. Photography: Would you want cameras or video cameras in the room?
8. Special needs: If you have any special needs, disability, allergies, special dietary requirements during your stay at the hospital, religious or cultural preferences, do specify them.
9. Most important issues: List any particular concerns or fears you may have.
Discuss these options with your doctor to understand how they may impact your delivery and baby.
Happy Birth Planning!