Jan 3, 2012

Creating a Birth Plan

I have been debating for a while about writing a post about a “Birth Plan.” I do not want any first time moms to think it is by any means necessary. In fact, I have talked to WAY more moms who looked like a deer in headlights when asked if they had a birth plan than not. I only know one currently expecting mom who has one, she is also the only mom I know using a Doula. I think most of us just think a “Birth Plan” is when we go into labor our plan is we go to the hospital and the let the doctor do the rest. The basic gist of a birth plan is to be an outline of how you want your labor, delivery and aftercare to go while you are in the hospital. The main issue with them is the unknowns of delivery, and whether or not your hospital can even accommodate your plan.

I came across the idea of a birth plan in my reading materials and thought it was actually kind of scary. Going over a compilation of 30 or so questions and options on how your ideal labor, delivery and aftercare should to go is a bit much for a first timer. Plus, A while a go when I went through the questions I didn’t even know what half the terms meant. Episiotomy? WTF is that?! Needless to say I discussed the importance of having a birth plan with my doctor, she said, “You are having a C-Section, that’s your birth plan.”

I didn’t give it another thought until recently when my husband and talked about some of our desires for baby after delivery. For example, I want to hold my baby immediately, not have him whisked away to the nursery, or that we do not want him circumcised and want to be informed of his entire after birth check-up and want to have a say about his vaccinations. These questions and options are covered in a birth plan.

I do want to mention that after research on experiences with birth plans, they can set you up for disappointment. Delivery day can be very unpredictable, so having a tight plan you expect everyone to adhere to may not be realistic. One of the testimonials I read by a new mom said she was so caught up in her dream plan that when it fell apart and she was forced to have a C-section she was so devastated it took her a while to bask in the glory of her daughter being born. That testimonial is the exact reason I read that doctors are really not huge fans of these fully laid out plans. So if you choose to use one please keep these factors in mind.

I personally decided to download the birth plan** for three reasons: 1. to open a complete delivery and aftercare dialog with my doctor, 2. to inform myself of the multitude of things that happen on the big day, regardless of natural delivery or C-section, 3. to outline the aftercare so the nurses will fully understand my expectations. What I am not using it for is a strict guideline for my delivery. I by no means expect a perfect delivery experience and am keeping my eye on the prize, my son’s health. We all know I didn’t want a C-section, but I have come to realize it doesn’t matter how he gets here, all that matters is that he does. Safely!

Bottom line: I think downloading and reviewing the plan can be very informative for a first time mom, and help create an open structured dialog with your doctor about the big day.

**The plan that I have come across that I like the best is found on “The Bump” Website: http://images.thebump.com/tools/pdfs/birth_plan.pdf This Birth plan is 6 pages long and covers nearly everything you can imagine.

If you are still questioning what a birth plan is, here is a list of some of the very basic questions found on every birth plan available….
  • Do you want to be offered pain relief? If so, do you prefer IV medication (given only in the early stage of labor) or an epidural (which can hinder the ability to push)?
  • Do you prefer to sit upright in bed or squat during the pushing stage?
  • Do you want to be mobile during labor? If you opt for continuous electronic fetal monitoring, for example, you may have to stay in bed.
  • Whom do you want present during labor?
  • What's your ideal birthing environment? Do you want the lights dimmed? Music playing? A bathtub, if available?
  • Do you want to avoid an episiotomy (an incision beneath the vaginal opening)? If so, massage and delivering in an upright position may help.
  • Do you want your partner to cut the umbilical cord
  • Do you want to hold the baby immediately?
  • Will you be breast-feeding?
  • Do you want the baby to stay in your room with you or go to the nursery?
  • If you have a boy, do you want him to be circumcised?
  • Vaccinations

Two confused parents=One amused baby Hopelessly we are trying raise a baby who is clearly smarter than both of us. April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com


  1. Definitely helpful in finding out how your Dr. really feels. My Dr., whom I hope will be delivering our baby, said everything looked fine in my birth plan, she just reminded me sometimes things don't go as planned and agreed to inform me and give me the decision of any changes we would need to make as they occur. Her colleague, whom I met with in case my Dr. couldn't make it, was borderline hostile about the fact that I had a birth plan at all. And then he used scare tactics to try to explain why some of the things I didn't want may be necessary. And then basically called me a control freak. I do not want this person to deliver my baby. I would rather have who ever is on-call at the hospital.

  2. Foodpixie - My nurse actually delivered my baby! My OB had two women in labor at the same time and was in the room next to mine when my little girl started crowning. If you don't want the other doctor from the practice, you have every right to tell him to get the heck out of your room! And, if the on-call doc doesn't get there in time, the OB nurses are so well trained and more than competent to help introduce your little one to this great big world!

  3. Thank you for letting me know this. I have an appt. with my regular Dr. today and I thought about bringing up how uncomfortable I am with her colleague, but I may just ask how likely it is she will be delivering my baby.