Birth plan: Know what pregnant women should include

 

Creating a birth plan should be part of your pregnancy journey. Let us tell you what to include in a birth plan.

When you get the “good news”, the thoughts of labour and delivery don’t immediately pop up. You focus more on your pregnancy diet, staying fit and ways to keep your baby healthy. But even though you have to wait for a few months to welcome your baby, you need to start working on a birth plan. A birth plan is basically organising the details of your wishes for when your baby enters the world. You don’t have to immediately make a birth plan. Enjoy the first few months of pregnancy and then start developing a birth plan. Read on to know to include in a birth plan.

What is a birth plan?

A birth plan is a document that outlines a would-be mother’s preferences for her childbirth experience. It includes preferences for pain management, labour positions, who will be present during the birth, and special requests for after the baby is born, shares obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Manish Machave. The purpose of a birth plan is to communicate the mother’s wishes to her healthcare team and ensure her preferences are taken into account during the delivery.

A pregnant woman holding a clipboard
A birth plan is about preferences for your childbirth experience. Image courtesy: Freepik

Why is a birth plan important?

Having a birth plan is important because it allows expectant parents to communicate their preferences and desires for the childbirth process. This document helps the healthcare team understand and respect the parents’ wishes, leading to a more personalised and positive birthing experience. Also, a birth plan can help reduce stress and anxiety by providing a sense of control and empowerment during this special time, says the expert.

When to make a birth plan?

Expecting moms should ideally make a birth plan during the second trimester of pregnancy. This timing allows for thoughtful consideration of preferences and provides ample opportunity to discuss the plan with healthcare providers. Making a birth plan early allows for adjustments and ensures that all preferences are well-communicated to the healthcare team in advance of the birthing process.

What to include in a birth plan?

A birth plan should include the following points:

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1. Birth environment

Describe the ideal birthing environment, including preferences for music, lighting, and ambience. This sets the tone for a comfortable and relaxing space during labour.

2. Pain management

Outline preferences for pain relief options such as natural techniques, medication, or epidurals. Discussing these choices ensures that the mother’s comfort needs are understood and respected.

3. Labour and pushing positions

Express preferences for different labour and pushing positions, such as standing, squatting or using a birthing ball. This allows the mother to be actively involved in the birthing process, says Dr Machave.

4. Healthcare providers

Specify preferences for the involvement of healthcare providers, including midwives, obstetricians, and nurses. This ensures that the right support team is present based on the mother’s preferences.

5. Interventions

Discuss preferences regarding medical interventions such as fetal monitoring, induction, and episiotomy. This allows the mother to communicate her stance on medical interventions during labor and delivery.

6. Delivery room atmosphere

Communicate desires for the atmosphere in the delivery room, including who will be present, photography or video recording, and any religious or cultural preferences for rituals or blessings.

7. Immediate postpartum preferences

Outline preferences for immediate skin-to-skin contact, delayed cord clamping, and other wishes for the moments following the baby’s birth. This helps create a plan for the crucial moments after delivery.

8. Feeding preferences

There are many ways to feed a newborn Communicate preferences regarding breastfeeding, formula feeding, or donor milk, as well as requests for lactation support after the birth.

A pregnant woman writing
Mention what you want during cesarean birth or vaginal delivery. Image courtesy: Freepik

9. Special circumstances

Address special circumstances or unexpected situations, such as cesarean birth. Outline preferences for these scenarios in the birth plan.

What are the differences between a birth plan for vaginal delivery and C-section?

The main difference between a birth plan for vaginal delivery and a birth plan for a cesarean section or C-section lies in the specific preferences and considerations for each type of delivery.

1. Vaginal delivery

For a birth plan for a vaginal delivery, the focus is on the preferences and choices related to the labour and birthing process, such as pain management options, labouring positions, preferences for the birthing environment, and immediate postpartum wishes. It emphasises the stages of labour, different birthing positions, and the desire for skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth.

2. C-section

A birth plan for a C-section addresses specific considerations related to surgical birth. This may include preferences for anesthesia (such as epidural or spinal), the presence of a support person during the procedure, preferences for music, and desires for immediate postoperative care of both the mother and the baby. It also includes preferences for the initial bonding and feeding process in the operating room or recovery area.

Each birth plan should address the specific needs and preferences associated with the mode of delivery.