Do you have birth preferences you’d like the hospital staff, your doctor and medical team to honor during labor & delivery? Includes a sample birth plan & blank birth plan to fill out. Read what goes into a birth plan including labor preferences, delivery preferences, and baby feeding and baby care after delivery.
The birth of my first children – who are twins – was carefully planned far before I arrived at the hospital, and settled into the labor and delivery unit. Their birth was more a case of standard protocol for delivering twins, and less of being prepared with a birth plan and my preferences for delivery written out.
Typically, with twins, a hospital and OB practice will allow you to deliver vaginally or via C-section, but most multiple deliveries are done in an operating room. (There are the rare times a midwife will deliver at home or a birth center, but we made the choice to go the hospital route for deliver.)
What this means, was that getting an epidural was a high preference in the case of complications during delivery. There was the chance that if we needed to deliver via emergency C-section, there would be no time for an epidural and quickly be put under anesthesia and miss the birth of my babies.
Here is how my delivery was planned the first time around:
Twins –> Hospital –> Epidural –> Operating Room –> Vaginal or C-Section Delivery
Thankfully we didn’t have any complications and the twins were born healthy and no emergency C-section was required (although at one point, my daughter’s heart rate dropped and we were in limbo if this would be the case for over an hour), but I couldn’t help but want to play a bigger role in creating my own birth plan the second time around.
I knew I wanted another vaginal delivery. I knew I wanted to try natural pain management methods and labor longer, but because my first delivery felt very planned, I didn’t know how to – or where to start – when it came to creating a birth plan.
If you’re a first-time Mom, you might be feeling like this too. Reading pregnancy books about the changes to your body and what to do after baby is born takes up the most shelf space at bookstores, but this won’t help you prepare for labor & delivery.
Labor is a grueling journey which I promise, you’ll feel more prepared and equipped to grit your way through, when you know what to expect. Getting your two cents in when it comes to delivery environment, what happens after delivery and the care of your baby is empowering.
You’re already a Mama, just trust your instincts when you begin to design the labor, delivery and welcoming of your baby to the world!
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Learn the classic signs of early labor and it’s also helpful to be familiar with natural pain management tips for labor before you get to this point of pregnancy.
The second time around, I wrote out a birth plan. Realistically, I knew a birth plan was only a skeleton draft of how L&D could go, and bringing a baby into the world is always unpredictable. However, having a statement with my birth choices written on paper made me feel more prepared, and like a warrior heading for battle… aka the labor & delivery unit.
What is a Birth Plan?
A birth plan is an outline of your preferences throughout labor and delivery. Your birth plan can include anything you want during early labor, monitoring, delivery and after your baby is born. It may include details about pain management, room environment, if you want to be in bed or able to walk around or use a birthing ball.
You have carte blanche (within reason, of course) to write down what you believe will make your labor and birth more comfortable and aligned with you.
Does this Mean My Birth Plan is Set in Stone?
Keep in mind, while you may write down everything you want for the birth of your baby, predicting how your labor & delivery go is beyond your control. Many changes can happen in a short time and doctors and nurses’ priority is always your wellbeing and your baby’s safe passage into this world.
Try to stay flexible once labor begins and allow changes as needed if something unexpected happens.
Have you taken a childbirth class yet? Hilary from Pulling Curls is a seasoned Labor & Delivery nurse and she’s put together and awesome Online Childbirth Class you can take from your couch in pajamas. She’s amazing and you’ll also have access to her to ask as many questions as you think of (where else do you get that kind of service?!)
What Can You Include in a Birth Plan?
While it’s easy to write down pages and pages of your wishes on your birth plan, don’t get too detail oriented in your birth plan, stick to the basics which mean the most to you.
- What does the environment look like you want to deliver in?
- Are the lights dimmed, music playing, or are you bringing entertainment with you?
- Who will be in the room with you for labor and then, delivery?
- Would you like a support person such as a labor coach or midwife?
- Are photos and videos OK?
- Include any details you have for your labor
- Do you want to walk around freely?
- Use a birthing ball, chair or take a shower?
- Would you like massage?
- This is generally the top consideration of your birth plan, but also the area where Moms once they begin to labor should be the most flexible.
- You may not want to have an epidural but once you are laboring, have labored so long without progress, you need an epidural to relax and rest. (Allow yourself grace to be flexible with the situation.)
- Ask your doctor about pain relief options
- Vaginal Birth or C-Section
- Do you prefer not to have an episiotomy?
- Would you like to see your baby’s birth?
- Does your partner want to cut the umbilical cord?
- Do you want your baby to be placed on your abdomen or chest after delivery?
- If you opt for a C-section or it becomes the delivery method, who would you like with you in the delivery room?
Baby Care: Feeding & Care in the Hospital
- Do you want to breastfeed right after delivery?
- Or are you thinking of bottle feeding or doing a combination of both?
- Would you like your baby in the hospital room with you at all times or are you OK for your baby to stay in the nursery sometimes?
- Are you Ok with offering a pacifier?
- Sugar water?
- If you have a baby boy, would you like him circumcised at the hospital? (sugar water may be used at time of circumcision)
Before you head to the hospital, share your birth plan with your labor coach, midwife and medical team. Ask your doctor to look and inspect for any conflicting delivery policies. When you review your birth plan ahead of time, you can circumvent and resolve any potential conflicts.
Be sure to check out the 11 Ways to Make Postpartum Recovery Easier (& Quicker) to help you recover quicker after delivery.
Who Gets a Copy of Your Birth Plan?
Once you finalize your birth plan, share a copy with your doctor, the hospital or birth center, and anyone else including nurses who will be with you during labor and delivery. It’s a good idea to bring a few copies with you just in case, and especially if your regular doctor isn’t available to deliver your baby.
It’s not necessary to have a birth plan which goes into detail, or have a birth plan at all. Writing down the key points you’d like for labor and delivery even if it’s just three or four preferences such as who is allowed in the delivery room or what your pain management preferences are, is enough.
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The Ultimate Pregnancy Organization Toolkit
Be sure to snag the Preparing for Baby Toolkit here. Read more about what’s inside to help you stay organized and prepare during every step of your pregnancy, and after you bring baby home. This information will help you prepare for baby, won’t let you forget any detail during pregnancy and take the overwhelm out of expecting a baby. Read more about what’s inside and how the preparing for baby toolkit will help you.