I don't like to talk about a birth "plan" so much, because birth often does not go according to anyone's plan, even if it all goes smoothly and you are satisfied with the outcome. I believe it's important to have two ideas in mind: (1) What is your ideal birth scenario? and (2) What are your preferences regarding certain questions in the event that something doesn't go according to your ideal? Instead of calling it a birth plan, I like calling it birth "preferences," as in, this is what I'd like to see happen, and here's what I've thought about in case this happens instead.
These are the major areas you'll want to think about when coming up with your birth preferences:
- Where will you give birth? (hospital, home, birth center)
- Who will attend the birth? (care provider, partner, nurse(s), doula, friend, relative)
- How will you give birth? (vaginal or surgical)
- What kind of pain relief do you expect to use? (epidural, narcotics, breathing techniques, birthing classes, birthing methods)
- How do you feel about the use of certain routine interventions? (fetal monitoring, IV, Pitocin, antibiotics, vacuum, forceps, episiotomy)
- Do you want the option to be mobile? (walking around, birthing ball, shower/bath, changing positions)
- What do you want to happen as soon as the baby is delivered? (immediate skin-to-skin, immediate breastfeeding, use of Pitcoin to deliver placenta/contract uterus, who will cut the cord, timing of cord cutting (delayed, immediate), preservation of placenta (for encapsulation or burying, for example), baby bath, vitamin K injection, protective antibiotics for newborn's eyes, weighing and measuring)
- Do you want to breastfeed? (immediate (within first hour) latch-on, rooming-in versus nursery, skin-to-skin)
Once you've figured out some of the basic direction you'd like to go, be sure to run these preferences by your care provider to make sure these desires are compatible with his/her policies, hospital policies (if applicable), and are realistic in your specific case.