Birth and Post-Birth Plans: Drafts to Download, Customize and Use!

by Svea Boyda-Vikander on December 4, 2012

Your little one is about to be born. One might say, your little one is about to hatch! Nothing compares to nesting with your newborn…

{Baby hummingbirds that just hatched.}

And to get there takes some work. And some planning.

Many women design birth and post-birth plans to clarify – both for themselves and for their care providers – the kind of birth and postpartum care they need. Birth plans are practical, tangible and written; if the mother feels sure that her plan will be read and considered, she feels safer in entering an altered state during labour. They can be helpful for all kinds of births, from elective cesareans to unassisted.

It can be difficult, even scary, to think about what could happen during birth and how you would want it to be handled. But planning for practical eventualities can actually help us to live in the moment: to disconnect from the external reality and go inward, to draw from our inner reserves of strength and have spiritual, ecstatic experiences (yes, it is possible! Yes, you deserve it!). Presenting your care provider with a birth plan ahead of time is also a good way to test the waters: will he/she listen to you during labour? Does he/she share your vision of birth and those precious newborn hours?

Why is this a concern? And what should a birth plan say, anyway? Judith Lothian, a New York-based childbirth educator says, “Tension between health professionals and patients caused by birth plans reflects the larger problems with contemporary maternity care: conflicting beliefs about birth, what constitutes safe, effective care, and ethical issues related to informed consent and informed refusal. The focus of birth plans should be to answer three patient-focused questions: What will I do to stay confident and feel safe? What will I do to find comfort in response to my contractions? Who will support me through labor, and what will I need from them?” (Lothian, 2006)

Big questions. Elizabeth {a BWF mom} shares her birth and post-birth plans. She says, “I got my birth plan from my doula, who got it from a client of hers. My OB/Gyn LOVED it (not to brag or anything) but she said she’s had couples come in with three and four pages of ‘demands’. My plan was one page for labor and delivery and one page for postpartum.” To download an editable copy of the birth plan, click here. For a copy of the post-birth plan, click here.

Birth Plan
[Parent(s) Name(s)]
Baby [boy/girl/surprise!]: [child’s name]
Estimated Due Date: [guess date]

Hospital/Birthing Center: [location name]
Mother’s Physician: [Doctor/midwife name]
Doula: [name]

We desire a labor & birth that results in a healthy baby and healthy mother.
We would prefer:

  • To have a vaginal delivery over cesarean
  • To have as few medications and other medical interventions as possible
  • To use a hep lock instead of a continuous IV
  • To have as much freedom of movement and position as possible during labor, including during the pushing stage
  • To labor in water as soon as [mama’s name] needs to and Dr. [name] says it’s ok
  • To use intermittent FHM or, if continuous FHM is deemed medically necessary, to use a portable or wireless fetal heart monitor
  • That labor augmentation techniques not be used
  • That the membranes not be ruptured artificially
  • To allow [mama’s name] to push with the urge
  • That pain medication is not offered
    • [Mama’s name] will ask for pain medication if she thinks it’s necessary
  • To risk a tear to the perineum rather than have an episiotomy
  • To have a local anesthetic in the perineal area if [mama’s name] deems it necessary
  • To allow the placenta to deliver naturally

 

Birth Plan
[Parent(s) Name(s)]
Baby [boy/girl/surprise!]: [child’s name]
Estimated Due Date: [guess date]

Hospital/Birthing Center: [location name]
Mother’s Physician: [Doctor/midwife name]
Doula: [name]

If medically possible, we would prefer:

  • To hold and bond with our child immediately after birth
  • To delay cord clamping and cutting until after the cord has stopped pulsating
  • To initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth, including in the recovery room in the case of cesarean delivery
  • To delay newborn procedures and tests until after the initial breastfeeding and bonding
  • For at least one parent to be present for all medical procedures
  • That [baby/baby's name] room in with us at all times during our hospital stay
  • That no bottles, pacifiers, artificial nipples, formula or water be given to our child at any time during our hospital stay without our consent

For a family centered cesaren birth plan, visit here.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Chasity December 6, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Thank you ladies!!

Reply

Sandee January 4, 2013 at 7:53 pm

On my birth plan I asked that pain medications not be offered, and said that if I needed them, that my husband would ask for them. That way, if I started requesting them during transition, they wouldn’t take my crazy talk as an actual request, and it would be something that he and I had discussed and thought thru, and not just transition talking. The wording I used was “Please do not offer pain medications. If we decide it is necessary, Bryan will request them.” I never asked for meds though, so I don’t know how they’d have reacted if I had.

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Courtney B. February 24, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Thanks for this resource!
Sandee, thank you for the suggestion of having your husband request pain medication. I think I will include that on my own.

Reply

Crystal March 4, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Please don’t have anyone else request pain meds. The dear nurses are confused enough by having to obey a birth plan and what comes out of a transitioning woman’s mouth and you want them to obey your husband too? Technically, nothing counts but what the woman says. Nurses have to obey what their patient verbalizes, so ladies, the choice is with you. You’re strong enough to control what you request from the nurse. These are nice birth plans, simple and sweet. I’d definitely add something about keeping the room quiet, lights dim, minimizing staff (no students).

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Elizabeth May 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm

I’m the mama whose birth plans those were… And during some point of my 3 hour pushing phase,I asked my nurse what my options were. She knew what I was doing, and pushed me to ask for the meds. It went back and forth for a minute or two and I remembered what our goal was and pressed on.

I’m going to have to modify these for my 2nd birth (in December!) because my OB doesn’t allow VBAC moms to labor in water, but I’m allowed to sit on my birthing ball in the shower. Thank goodness.

Reply

Bad Wolf May 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Thank you! I actually was searching your blog a couple days ago trying to find this and was unsuccessful, so I was glad to see it linked on FB. You should have it in a Resources section or something. :) I love how it covers the important stuff and is concise and to the point.

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