A birth plan is a way for you to communicate your wishes to those who care for you in labor. It tells them about the type of labor and birth you'd like to have, what you want to happen, and what you want to avoid. It can include positions for labor and birth, instructions to relay to your partner, what kind of pain relief you'd like to use, any equipment you would like to use, and any other special needs or requests you have.
First,find out all routine policies and procedures in your birth setting. Sit down and have a consultation with your health care provider prior to delivery so you can find out what to expect.
During the delivery process itself it's important to practice positive thinking and mindfulness to help manage your pain and boost your confidence.
Questions to consider when making a birth plan
Who do you want to be present? This includes, you rpartner, parents, in-laws, siblings, children, and any other family members.
Do you want a doula?
Do you want immediate skin to skin contact?
Do you wish to breastfeed immediately after birth?
Do you want mobility, or do you wish to stay in bed?
What activities or positions do you plan to use? If you prefer a certian position, make sure it is noted.
How do you feel about fetal monitoring?
How do you plan to stay hydrated? (sips of drinks, ice chips, IV)
Do you want to take pain medications, or not? Do you have a preference for certain pain medications?
What are your preferences for your baby’s care? Where will they sleep, where will they eat, etc.
Do you want a routine IV, a heparin/saline block, or neither?
Do you want to wear your own clothing?
Do you want to listen to music and have focal points?
Do you want to use the tub or shower?
How do you feel about being induced?
For home and birth center births, what are your plans for hospital transport in case of emergency?
If you need a cesarean, do you have any special requests?
Where will your partner and whoever else is there with you stay?
It's also important to have everything you need packed in your hospital bag.
- Dressing Gown/Bath Robe - You'll need something to walk around in and easily slip on and off.
- Several changes of comfortable clothes - Make sure you have lots of extra underwear.
- Extra Absorbent Pads - You will definitely need these after delivery.
- Nursing Bra
- Slippers - So you can easily get up and go to the bathroom and walk around.
- Socks - The last thing you want is cold feet!
- Makeup- You'll be so thankful to have a little blush and lipstick when everyone's snapping photos of the big moment. Also be sure to include some chap sticks because hospitals are very dry.
- Hair Ties/Brush - Things are going to get sweaty and gross.
- Toiletries - Make sure your kit includes a toothbrush, deodorant, facial wipes, and body lotion.
- Snacks/Drinks - You're going to be hungry and thirsty so pack some healthy options.
- Phone/Charger - To ensure you have a lifeline to the outside world.
- Extra Pillows - During this uncomfortable time, you'll be thankful for any extra support.
- Headphones/Computer - In case you find yourself playing the waiting game and in need of a music or movie pick me up.
- Tube Sock and Tennis Balls - This helps relieve backpain.
Packing For Baby
- Diapers and Baby Wipes- More is better!
- Several Onesies - Make sure they are easy to put on baby.
- An Adorable Going Home Outfit - Just because.
What Your Partner Should Pack
- Change Of Clothes and Toiletries - Who knows how long they will need to stay by your side?
- Phone/Camera/Charger - This is vital for capturing those precious first moments. Whether you're using a fancy camera or snapping photos on your phone, your partner will want to make sure all necessary equipment is on hand.
- Bendy Straws - To give to you to help you drink your fluids.
- Snacks/Drinks - No one needs to rely on hospital food.
Other Things to Consider
- Make sure you already have a car seat installed in your car (and make sure you both know how to use it). That's definitely not worth your first fight!
- If you have children that are not coming to the hospital with you make sure you've lined up care for them. Have animals? Have a neighbor keep an eye on them while you're gone. You want to be worry free during this transition!
Want more resources? Check out Fighting Smart: A Guide to Preparing Your Relationship For Baby.