Creating a Birthing Plan

Important decisions to consider before labor and delivery.

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Organizing and preparing for your new baby may be two of the most difficult things during your pregnancy. One great way to help with preparing for the baby is to develop your own birthing plan.

A birthing plan is a collaborative document that expresses your desires, needs, and beliefs for the big day of delivery. There are many great resources and worksheets available online for you to fill out, print, and talk over with your doctor. A lot of first time mothers don’t even realize that they may have these options available to them.

Birth plan options may range from medication, vaccinations, birthing equipment, and noise level to visitors during your labor and delivery. Some women don’t have many preferences; they just want to have a healthy baby as soon as possible.

On the other hand, some women want to make these decisions in order to have their ideal labor and delivery. Whichever situation you find yourself in, below are some questions every expectant mother should at least consider.

  • Which types, if any, of pain medication are you comfortable using?
  • Do you have any aversion to induction if your baby isn’t coming on his or her own?
  • For religious and spiritual reasons, do you need the birthing room to be silent when the baby is born?
  • Do you want to bond with the baby before any medical procedures?
  • Will your baby solely be breastfeeding, drinking formula, or a mixture of the two?
  • Would you like to see a lactation counselor immediately after birth?
  • Are there certain people you don’t want in the delivery room with you? Who would you like in the room the entire time? Is there someone you want in the room for only part of the time during delivery?
  • Which natural induction techniques are you comfortable trying?
  • Would you prefer to wear your own clothes or hospital clothes during your stay?
  • Do you want the doctor coaching you on pushing or would you rather do it instinctively?
  • Which rooming in options would you prefer? Would you like the baby to stay with you in your room the entire time or have the baby in the nursery so that you can get your rest? Any combination of the two?
  • Would you like your doctor or your partner to cut the umbilical cord?
  • Would you prefer the nurses to bathe the baby or would you like to give your baby his or her first bath?
  • Will your baby boy be circumcised?

The above list is just a few of the options that are available for you, your partner, and your baby. Having your birthing plan completed beforehand makes it easier for everyone, and it ensures all your needs and wants are met, reducing unnecessary stress. Not to mention, it has the biggest benefit to you because you have the labor and delivery you want and need.

If the online version of the birthing plan seems too impersonal because it doesn’t leave space for writing your own notes and specifications, you can write your own very simply. If you aren’t sure exactly where to start, use the online forms as a template, and then go from there.

If you are making an adoption-related birthing plan, many of the questions are still the same. But, there are additional questions to which you should pay particular attention.

  • The first concern is to decide if you feel comfortable having the adoptive family in the hospital or birthing suite with you. Do you want them present during the actual delivery? If not, which parts of the labor would you like them to be present, if any?
  • Because so many people are involved in the adoption process, you’ll need to decide if the attorneys, social workers, and so on should be at the hospital.
  • When deciding on important questions, how involved will you allow the adoptive family to be? Some key issues that need to be dealt with, preferably before the labor and delivery, are circumcision, vaccinations, breastfeeding vs. formula, and so on. Talk these key issues out with the adoptive family. Make sure you are on the same page.
  • Rooming-in is also a very important topic to consider for both the birth mother and the adoptive parents. This is another issue that needs to be discussed in depth by both parties. Some parents want the child to stay with the adoptive mother the entire time (in order to bond), while some prefer the baby to be taken care of initially by the nurses. Also, you’ll need to decide if you or the adoptive mother will be the one primarily with the baby during the hospital stay.
  • Mementos from the hospital can also be a hot topic for both the birth mother and the adoptive parents. Deciding who keeps the bracelet and other hospital mementos before reaching the hospital will ensure more attention and time for the new baby.

Keep in mind that communication is the key to figuring out your answers to all these questions. Talk these things over with the adoptive family and anyone else that will be involved. Understanding each other’s wants and needs is a great way to help the birth and adoption process run smoothly, assuring both sides are happy and content with the final outcome.

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