If you are expecting a baby, you probably have ideas about how you would like the labor and delivery to go. To help make sure your ideas become a reality, work with your doctor and birthing facility to write a birth plan.
Youíve picked your childís name, decorated the nursery, and bought enough diapers to last the first few weeks. But have you made a plan for the birth?
From home births and water births to more traditional hospital deliveries, there are many options available to women today. A birth plan lets your doctor, midwife, or doula know exactly what you want your birthing experience to be like. It can also outline how you want your baby to be cared for immediately after you give birth. You can be as detailed as you likeóitís entirely up to you.
Talk with your doctor about your options. There are also websites that give you a checklist of items to consider when making your plan. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make the first day you spend with your child go as smoothly as possible.
Thereís a lot to decide on for your birth plan, so donít put it off until the last minute. A good place to start might be to decide where you want to deliver your baby. A hospital or birthing center is the most common choice, but home births have become more mainstream in recent years.
If you decide on a hospital birth, itís a good idea to visit the facility a few weeks beforehand. This way, youíll know the best route to get there, where to go for check-in, even where you can park your car. Some hospitals will let you register ahead of your visit so that your insurance information is already on file.
Talk with your doctor and the hospital staff about their policies and procedures. They may already have a set routine in place. Many hospitals and birthing centers can give you a brochure or pamphlet with this information. Use that as a launching point for your own birth plan.
Once youíve picked a location to give birth, itís time to get into specifics. Your hospital can give you a list of things to consider. Keep your plan short and to the point. One page is usually long enough. Here are just a few of the things you may want to include:
Millions of perfectly healthy babies are born each year in the U.S. and around the world. But there is always the chance that something unexpected could happen. When putting together your plan, leave some room for flexibility. If youíve decided to have your baby at home, plan a way to get to the hospital if thereís a situation that canít be handled by your birth team. If you want a natural childbirth, talk with your doctor about the possibility of an emergency cesarean section.
Remember: A birth plan is designed to give you confidence that your wishes will be respected and to put you in control even when you may be feeling overwhelmed by everything thatís going on around you. Together with your doctor, you can plan for a birth experience youíll remember for the rest of your life.
By Brett Bakshis, guest contributor for Vitality. For more information, visit www.americanpregnancy.org and search for ďbirth plan.Ē
Planning for a healthy baby begins long before you actually get pregnant. When you are ready to have a baby, the CDC recommends the following:
By Bruce E. Beans, a feature writer for Vitality.