We are coming up on my son’s first birthday, and it seems like the last year has flown by in a blur! So much has changed in the last year, and I have learned a lot about myself and being a mom. One of the things that I was thinking about a lot this time last year was my son’s birth – not just his arrival, but the labor and birth itself. I took a birthing class, read plenty of birth stories, and prepared myself for the unexpected. You cannot plan how your labor and delivery will go entirely, but there are a lot of things that you can decide. Having a plan will help keep you calm and keep things going smoothly. Read on to learn about how to write a birth plan and download a printable birth plan worksheet.
My style as a stage manager is always to be as prepared as I can and then just take things as they come. I approached my son’s birth with the same mindset. As a first time mom, I knew that I couldn’t understand what labor would be like. I had ideas, but none of them were set in stone. This approach worked well for me, but I know that other people like to be more pre-planned. No matter your approach, you will want to have your desires in writing. When you are in labor, you will not be as right minded as you are right now. You may not want to be communicating with your birth coach and the nurses at the hospital. It will be clear and easy to give them a sheet that has your plans and expectations outlined. Make sure the staff at the hospital or birth center know what your hard rules are. Everything else will just be a guideline. You can always change your mind in the moment depending on what you need.
I have designed this birth plan worksheet to be as customizable as possible. It is really just a great place to outline all of your notes. If you are not sure about additional items to include in your birth plan, consider taking your birth plan worksheet into a doctor’s appointment with you towards the end of your pregnancy. I am sure that your doctor will be happy to help you articulate the birth that you want on paper.
Just click the image to the left to open the full-size printable birth plan worksheet.
Here are the things that you will want to keep in mind when you prepare for your labor and delivery.
You’ve already decided a lot of this just by choosing the location that you are giving birth. You may also make requests like having music playing or using scented air fresheners or essential oils. Some people want to have as much natural light as possible and other want a dark, quiet room. The biggest thing to decide in this category is who will be in the room with you. This is an important one for your birthing staff to know, and they will probably ask you.
The most obvious choice in this category is if you want a medicated or unmedicated birth. It is important for the people around you to know what your plan is for pain management so that you can all have the same expectations going in. No matter what you chose, you want to do your research and know your coping tools well enough that you will remember them while you are in pain.
If you are a first time mom, you should go into this one a little open minded. Have your planned pain management strategy and a back up pain management strategy. For example, if you want to try using breathing techniques and essential oils, are you open to taking pain medications if needed? Are you unwilling to have an epidural? Decide what you want, what you are open to, and what you definitely do not want. Make sure to be as specific as you can in your birth plan.
It seems like most hospitals and birth centers are moving towards making the birth process as natural as possible for mother and baby. You will want to check with your doctor to see what types of interventions are used and/or recommended where you will give birth. The biggest intervention is having a c-section instead of a planned vaginal birth. There are also smaller interventions that doctors may take like forceps, episiotomy, pitocin, or breaking your water. Make sure that you and your birth team are on the same page about which of these interventions you are open to and which you want to avoid.
When your little one finally arrives, the nurses will likely be the ones to let the doctors know what to do with them right away. You will not want to have to let them know anything at this moment, so having your baby care desires known to the medical staff beforehand is important. Your doctor and/or birthing staff will let you know what is standard baby care at your hospital or birthing center. In general, some things that will go in this category are – Do you want immediate skin to skin contact? Do you want to do delayed cord clamping? Will you try to breastfeed immediately after birth? Should your baby boy be circumcised? Should your baby get eye ointment? Do you want baby to get the routine vaccinations and vitamin shots for your facility? Note all of these things in the baby care section of your birth plan worksheet.
Other Thing That Are Important to You
Like I said, every birth is different! This is the section where you can write out anything that you would like the medical staff to know about how you see your labor and delivery going. For example, I wanted to be as mobile as possible during my son’s birth and not restricted to a bed. In the end, I didn’t get that wish because I was hooked up to an IV and fetal monitoring right upon check in. (I was in active labor, getting sick, and dehydrated when we arrived, so my plans changed to meet my needs.) Either way, that is an important part of the plan. Other things that you may want to include are birthing positions, breathing techniques, if you want to use a birthing pool or tub, etc.
There you have it – some things to think about, and a birth plan worksheet to help you outline your ideas. If you have other questions or concerns, drop them in the comments!
Remember that many, many mamas have done this before you. We all made it through and so will you! Your baby’s birth will be unique, beautiful, exhausting, and worth it in the end. Have your game plan ready, and then relax and enjoy knowing that you are close to meeting your baby. (as much as you can relax while you are at the end of pregnancy and/or in labor anyway!) You got this. 🙂