As your due date draws near, you'll want to start planning for your labor and delivery. A lot of it is out of your hands, but there are some things you can and may want to control! A lot of women draw up a birth plan prior to their due date, which can help you make sure your wishes and desires are tended to while you're in labor and delivering your baby.
What Is A Birth Plan
A birth plan is just that - a plan for your birth! Obviously, plans don't always go, well, according to plan. But during labor and delivery, you'll be quite busy trying to birth a human, so you want to make sure that they things that are important to you are considered.
Your birth plan should be a clear statement of your preferences during labor and delivery. You'll want to make sure everyone involved in your delivery has a copy, from the nurses who care for you to the support people you have by your side.
Why You Should Have A Birth Plan
Your birth plan should include your preferences for your entire labor and delivery process, as well as important details such as your doctor's name and phone number, the names of the people you want in the delivery room with you, and a list of who will perform what function during labor and delivery (dad cuts the cord, for example).
It can also include preferences for your ideal labor environment, any special requests or needs you have for your actual labor (the use of a birthing pool or access to a shower, access to birthing apparatus like chairs or balls), and birthing positions you'd like prioritized. You can also use your birth plan to lay out your choices for interventions during labor, such as pain relief, frequency of fetal monitoring, and whether or not you want an episiotomy.
The final part of your birth plan should include your wishes for postpartum - do you want immediate skin-to-skin? Delayed cord clamping? Circumcision? Cord blood banking? These are all considerations to add to your birth plan. Include instructions on how you'd like emergency situations to be addressed, and make sure to dedicate part of your plan to what will happen if you need a c-section.
When To Ignore Your Birth Plan
If it's important to you, include it in your birth plan. You don't want to leave anything to chance, or rely on your support team to make sure every single one of your wishes is considered. But keep the items on your birth plan focused on your labor, delivery, postpartum recovery, and the immediate care of your newborn. Don't use your birth plan as a way to passive-aggressively exclude someone, or put the onus on your medical team to play referee between people in the room with you.
In regards to continued care of your newborn, such as vaccines, anything that is not managed in the immediate hours or day or so following their birth should be addressed with their pediatrician. The most important thing to keep in mind is that, even with a birth plan in place, things can and do change!
So don't try to make your birth plan a legally binding document - your medical team will do what they can to make sure it's honored, but ultimately their priority is your health and that of your baby.