Birth Plan Template for First-Time Mothers
Knowing what you want for your upcoming birth is the exact reason you should use a birth plan template for first-time mothers.
Birth plans are great for communicating with your doctor or midwife and making sure they know what’s important to you as well as things like medications, clothing choices during labor, etc. You should also bring a list with you to the hospital of any medications or supplies that might be necessary for your delivery.
It’s hard to know what you want and need in labor. Will you deliver in a hospital or do you prefer a home birth? What about if the baby is breech? Do you want medication to help with pain? What kinds of birth interventions are you comfortable with?
The best way to answer those questions is by creating a birth plan that will give you options for all situations. I’ve created a birth plan template of how one might look, and you can print it out and fill in your personal wants and needs.
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What is a birth plan and why is a birth plan important?
A birth plan is a document that outlines above all, what you and your partner (or spouse) want. This includes what kind of birth environment you want to give birth in, how much or little medical intervention you want (if any), when and where you are allowed to be checked for dilation (i.e. when do they need to check you if labor has not started naturally), any pain medication or other treatments that you want as well as items and activities (for your partner or for yourself) that will help keep the stress of labor and delivery at a minimum.
When should I create this plan?
Ideally, you’ll have created your birth plan quite sometime before your due date. However, you can prepare this as close to the day of giving birth if you’d like, but it’s important to have a plan in place for when those contractions begin!
What kind of info should I include?
Include any requests that are specific to your partner or other family members, as well as any preferences you have regarding the birth environment.
As mentioned above, it would be good to include what kind of pain medications (if any) you want and when you’re allowed to be checked for dilation. You should also let your doctor know that you are planning to give birth in a hospital, birthing center, or at home. We will go into more details here soon.
What to Include in a Birth Plan?
Here are possible things to include in your birth plan!
Contact information for your medical team and hospital/birthing center.
Important health information about you and your baby: Group B Strep, Rh incompatibility, gestational diabetes, VBAC, placenta previa, etc.
Who can be present while you’re in labor?
Who can visit while you’re in labor?
Is there anyone you don’t want to visit during your labor and/or delivery?
Who will be present during your birth?
Who will be coaching you while you’re giving birth?
Will you be using a doula?
Is there a signal to your nurse to tell people to leave?
Where do you want to give birth? At home, the hospital, birthing center, water birth, etc.
Will you have a birth photographer?
Do you want to have music playing?
Will you be using essential oils?
Does the hospital require fetal monitoring?
What type of birthing interventions are you OK with? Episiotomy, forceps, vacuum, etc?
In what circumstances do you want to move to a c-section birth?
Are you OK with them breaking your water or using medication to induce labor?
Are you OK with them doing internal cervical exams?
Who do you want to be in the room for the actual birth?
Do you prefer to labor in water, either the bath or the shower?
Do you want to be up and moving while in labor?
What birthing positions would you like to try?
Are you comfortable walking the halls?
Do you want to use a birthing ball?
What kind of pain management will you be using if any?
Do you want to have delayed cord cutting?
Are you allowed to eat or drink while in labor?
Who will be catching the baby?
Who will be cutting the umbilical cord?
Do you want to have immediate skin-to-skin?
Do you want to use a mirror so you can see your baby being born?
Will you be saving the placenta?
Do you plan to bank the cord blood?
Will your baby be receiving Vitamin K and antibiotic eye treatment?
Will your baby be receiving shots in the hospital?
Will your baby stay with you or go to the nursery?
Will you be breastfeeding or using formula?
Who will be staying with you at the hospital?
Will you be using a pacifier?
If you have a boy, will you be circumcising the baby?
When do you want the baby to be bathed for the first time?
If breastfeeding, do you want assistance from a location consultant?
Here is the Printable Birth Plan Template you can fill in!!
Birth Plan FAQ
What if my partner and/or doctor don’t agree with any of my requests?
Whether your partner agrees with all of your requests or none of them, you need to feel that you’ve given birth the way you want. It’s important then that you are aware of what rights you have as a mother in the hospital.
Here are 4 questions you should ask your doctor:
– What kind of pain medications will I be given?
– Can I labor and give birth without being checked for dilation?
– Will you allow my partner (or anyone else) to remain with me throughout most of my labor and delivery?
– Will my partner (or anyone else) be allowed to catch my baby after the birth?
What if I change my mind about what’s in my birth plan?
As mentioned above, it’s important that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to preferences such as birthing positions, pain medications, and other treatments, as well as who is present during the birth. That way, you can avoid conflict later on and give birth as you both wanted in the first place!
If your preferences are not respected or honored by your partner, at least know that you have rights if a doctor makes certain decisions about your care that aren’t what you want:
1. You have the right to be fully informed about all aspects of care, including the benefits and risks of any recommended treatment or procedure.
2. You have the right to refuse any diagnostic test or medical treatment you do not wish to undergo.
3. If a doctor says that you need something for pain relief (whether it’s an epidural, anesthesia, or even just a little bit of medication to help with the pain) and you don’t want it, you must say “No”. No exceptions.
4. If your partner consents to medical procedures but you do not, your wishes should be honored. This includes anything from checking for dilation to giving birth with forceps or a Cesarean section.
5. You have the right to refuse any offered procedure even if your partner consents to it. However, you should be aware that refusal may lead to more interventions being forced upon you (because they are needed for the health and security of your baby and/or yourself).
6. You have the right to ask for a second opinion from another doctor.
7. If you receive any treatment or medical procedure that was not agreed upon beforehand, you should be fully informed about why this is being done and what it will entail.
8. Informed consent means that a doctor must let you know if any risks exist before they can proceed with any recommended treatment or procedure. If you are not informed about what is going on, or all of the risks involved in a medical procedure, you may feel free to ask for this information and/or request another doctor’s opinion.
9. Your preferences must be honored by anyone who is providing care to you, including nurses.
What can I do about pain medication while in labor?
Ask any veteran natural birther how they felt during labor and delivery and they will tell you that it is intense. Some women even tell stories of how they hit their partner with pillows, screamed at the hospital staff, and even the white wall in front of them (just don’t do any of these things when there are witnesses!). However, an epidural can help by relieving some or all of your pain during childbirth.
Most medical professionals believe that pain medication is a good idea for labor and delivery because it will reduce the baby’s stress level, which may lead to shorter labor and fewer complications. However, this should not be an excuse for using drugs that you don’t need. Some women even report feeling nauseous after receiving an epidural and, while most can still feel the urge to push, some say that the effect of the drug makes this difficult.
The decision about using pain medication is a personal one and you must make it based on your desires and needs. The choice is yours and please be aware that there are many alternatives available for pain relief during labor.
What are my choices for pain relief during labor?
There is a wide variety of options for natural childbirth without drugs, including hydrotherapy, massage and touch therapies, waterbirth, ‘walking’ during labor, acupuncture, hypnosis, and more. However, it should be noted that there are risks involved in some of these alternatives.
If you are interested in one of these methods, make sure to ask your doctor about them during your prenatal visits. When discussing natural childbirth without drugs, it may also be a good idea to discuss with someone who has previously had a drug-free labor experience.
Are there any risks to natural childbirth without drugs?
One of the greatest fears for pregnant women is that something might go wrong and they may require an emergency C-section. However, many complications during delivery can be prevented or avoided naturally by planning ahead and educating yourself about your options. If you think you will need a C-section, make sure to discuss this option with your doctor during the prenatal visits.
The most common risk for natural childbirth is excessive bleeding due to an undiagnosed or neglected placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta blocks the opening of the uterus so that it cannot accept delivery of the baby. Women who have experienced placenta previa in a previous pregnancy are more likely to experience it again. If you suspect that you have this condition, talk to your doctor about the best course of action for delivery.
There is also a risk for torn vaginal or perineal tissue if your baby is very large, your labor is induced, you have a forceps delivery, or if your doctor has to use an episiotomy. This can lead to pain and swelling in the genital area after childbirth.
Benefits of Having a Birth Plan
Having a birth plan gives you the freedom to make decisions about your own body. A birth plan can help keep your priorities in order and prevent common conflicts that arise during labor and delivery.
A birth plan is a tool that you use in case of emergency, so it helps to have as much information written down as possible in case there are any unforeseen circumstances. The hospital staff should follow your birth plan, so if you feel that your needs are not being met, it is a good idea to have an advocate or doula present who knows the details of your birth plan and can speak on your behalf.
Having a birth plan does not guarantee that they will follow everything in the document, but it is a great starting point and helps to ensure that your wishes are heard. Be flexible about the plan as well. If you think of something during labor, add it to the birth plan or make a note to speak with your medical team before they arrive.
A little planning goes a long way, so create the perfect birth plan for you and your baby. Check with your insurance company to see what the coverage is on a doula and/or labor coach. It’s also helpful to have a few extra copies printed out in case others want to follow along.
The first steps to creating a birth plan template are deciding what you want and how you envision your upcoming birth experience. Take your time, because the decisions you make now will impact everything that happens from this point on- including the delivery of your baby! If you have any questions about anything, feel free to reach out – there’s no silly question in childbirth!
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What to Expect After Giving Birth
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Here’s my all-inclusive list of helpful resources for moms!
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