*I'm the kind of person who changes my mind and slightly alters my plan almost constantly on some things... below is the birth plan I brought to the hospital and although everything went fine, I would change some things the next time around if I have another hospital birth. I'm strongly considering a home birth (that's a blog post for another day)! I would be VERY CAREFUL about my baby being taken from the room unsupervised by me. Some hospitals rarely if ever take the baby from the mother's room, others seem to constantly have some reason the baby needs to go to the nursery. My baby spent way more time under a heating lamp then I would have liked, and his medical records are confusing to say the least regarding "things" he was/wasn't given. So next time I would plan better and know my rights for when he would need to be taken from the room (certain medical procedures require it) and just be very open to the people tending me/my baby that I don't want him being taken anywhere without me or my husband there to keep an eye on everything. Maybe I'm over the top, maybe not! Just be VOCAL about it! And no, that doesn't mean you have to be rude. The power of an open flow of communication and expectations between patients and their providers should not be underestimated! Finally, I would do more research on what to expect following an emergency c-section. For instance, I am SOOO very passionate about undisturbed skin-to-skin between mother and baby or dad and baby immediately following birth, and would want everything to be done to ensure that happens regardless of the method of delivery. Even though a c-section would be an absolute last preference for me, I still think it's a good idea to know how to make the most of the experience so elements of my labor and delivery could still be what I desire, even if the whole thing doesn't go according to plan.*
I've been working on my birth plan for a few weeks and after hours of doing research online, reading information from my doula, talking with my OB, and asking (pestering) my friends who work in or are familiar with labor and delivery, I think I've finally finished it! I wanted it to be concise yet thorough. I did several (hundred) revisions, which mainly involved removing irrelevant requests and highlighting my most important preferences. I wrote my birth plan assuming I'm going to go into active labor naturally. I do not plan to be induced (no matter how "overdue" I might be) unless there is very strong evidence that induction would preserve the health of me and/or my baby. At this point there is no indication that I should need to be induced, so I'm going to relax and let my body and little man decide when the time is right! Should the plan change, I'll use my doctor, nurse, doula, and husband as resources and take it one step at a time.
Feel free to click on the image of my birth plan below to download a copy. You're welcome to use as a starting place for writing your own! I do want to point out that there there is no "one plan fits all" birth plan. So many factors tie into a woman's "ideal" labor and delivery experience, from personal preferences to medical necessity, and each mama needs to carefully consider all her options for herself. You might not agree with everything I've chosen to aim for regarding the birth and care of my son, and the good news is that you have the option to do things differently than me! (Disclaimer: I'm not a medical professional! Please speak with someone qualified before you make decisions regarding your care and the care of your baby.)
Also Worth Considering (Not Mentioned In My Birth Plan)
Antibiotics: If a woman tests positive for Group B Strep (GBS), it's standard for her to be given antibiotics during labor to help reduce the risk of GBS complications for her baby. If I'm GBS positive, I'll get the antibiotics. I've done a lot of research and although I prefer to avoid antibiotics unless they are very necessary (as I know in this circumstance they will impact both me AND my baby) I personally think the benefits of receiving antibiotics to treat GBS outweigh the risks of dealing with complications that could occur for my baby if I were GBS positive and refused them.
Pitocin: Pitocin is routinely given after the baby is delivered to help deliver the placenta and prevent bleeding issues. You can refuse it, but know the risks and/or benefits of doing so. I personally accept the Pitocin! It’s given in an IV or in a shot.
Diet: A “clear liquid diet” is recommended during active labor. Some women like to have the freedom to eat and drink what/when they want, but it has a set of risks/benefits of its own. I was throwing up during my first labor, so I'm not really planning on having meal time while in active labor this time around! I plan to drink water and coconut water for hydration. If I am thinking about food and eating while in active labor, I'll probably be thankful not to be in agony and I wouldn't be opposed to snacking on something I'd brought with me from home!
Time Limits: As long as “things” are progressing and baby and mother are doing well, there are no time limits on any stage of labor at the hospital I plan to deliver at.
Saline Lock: It's standard for laboring women to get a saline lock upon admission. It's generally a "just in case" kind of thing that's used to administer fluids or medications if needed or Pitocin after delivery of the baby. It allows for full mobility when you're not hooked to an IV but comes in handy in an emergency situation.
A Note On Refusing Certain Routine Newborn Procedures: Not every state makes it "easy" for parents to refuse certain procedures. For instance, in the state of NY refusing the erythromycin eye drops could get you reported to child protective services. It's wise to know what to expect in your specific state. And of course make sure it's a good idea for you and your baby to refuse (or consent to) any given procedure!
Tips For Writing A Birth Plan / Having A Great Birth Experience
There's this saying, "If you don't know what your OPTIONS are, you don't have any!" In so many ways, that statement is sadly true. This is my second pregnancy and I was able to use what I learned during my first pregnancy, labor, and delivery to write a birth plan. I also made use of ALL my resources... friends, Google, healthcare providers, and doula. If you're a first time mom and you want to learn about your options, talk to other moms! Talk to your healthcare provider! Look up articles online, buy some books... do what it takes to familiarize yourself with the process. While I don't think there's a way to prepare yourself fully for the labor and delivery experience, I can assure you that not going in blind will be incredibly helpful.
Secondly, be KIND! Don't assume you'll be fighting tooth and nail to "get your way" at the hospital (if you plan to deliver at a hospital). It can't start things off on the right foot with doctors and nurses when their patients come in with an unfriendly, you're-the-enemy attitude. Give the people you're working with the benefit of the doubt. For the most part, they will want to help you have a great labor and delivery experience! On the flip side, don't be afraid to STAND UP FOR YOURSELF (or have someone else there who can do it). If you're feeling pressured or uncomfortable or confused, you can ask for a different nurse or doctor. You do have rights as a patient and you might have to use them!
Finally, be FLEXIBLE! Emergency situations arise. Things might not go the way you envision them going. Something might happen that causes none of your birth plan to be followed! And really, it might be in your best interest or your baby's best interest for your birth plan to be disregarded. Of course I hope I don't find myself in such a situation, and I would never wish it upon anyone else! But at some point you might have to let go of the plan and trust the Lord and the people He's provided to treat you.