Courtesy of Dignity Health
When it comes to labor and delivery, you now have more options than ever before—but that also means more decisions, including finding the right doctor or midwife. Making childbirth choices in advance helps ease the pre-labor stress, so you know you are as prepared as possible. And having a birth plan makes your wishes clear and puts them in writing so that everyone understands them.
What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is a written document that communicates your goals and wishes for all steps of your labor and delivery. You and your partner, as parents-to-be, offer up your best case scenario and answers to any questions that could come up during the process. This documentation lets your care team know your preferences regarding pain management, postpartum care, newborn procedures, and more.
Sit down with your partner and discuss all of your labor and delivery possibilities. There are a lot of examples of birth plans online, but this important resource should be unique to your needs. Use the questions in the next section as inspiration.
What information is important to include in my birth plan?
Your birth plan is a fluid document, and you can change your mind at any point before the birth. Here is the information you’ll want to include:
- What kind of labor experience do you want? This part is where you would discuss your philosophy of birth—whether you want a vaginal or c-section delivery, who you want by your side, and your preferred positions for pushing. If your goal is to avoid a medical induction or c-section, you can make a note of this. However, if medically necessary, your doctor may recommend performing one of these procedures for the safety of you and your child.
- Do you want to eat or drink, walk around, have a music playlist, or aromatherapy oils? Outline any details you can think of that might affect your surroundings in the delivery room that are important to you. Determine what is going to make you more at ease during this time.
- What type of fetal monitoring would you prefer? Fetal monitoring can be done electronically, continuously or intermittently. Our Family Birth Centers have intermittent auscultation and state-of-the-art fetal monitoring systems to provide quality care for you and your baby.
- Would you like an episiotomy or natural tearing only? An episiotomy is a minor surgical cut made by your provider right before vaginal delivery to enlarge the opening for the baby’s exit. This practice is not as common as it was a few years ago.
- Do you want an epidural or natural birth? About two-thirds of women who deliver in hospitals request an epidural to manage the pain of vaginal delivery. An epidural is considered one of the safest methods of pain control. Before childbirth is a good time to think about whether you desire an epidural or not. Getting familiar with your desired relaxation and breathing techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing, mindfulness, or meditation, can help you manage pain before receiving an epidural or if you decide to experience natural childbirth.
Four tips for writing your birth plan
With all of the information there is to include in your birth plan, it might be challenging to know where to start. Consider these four tips before you get started writing.
- Keep it simple. While it’s essential to think through everything that could come up during labor and delivery, you don’t want to make this document so long that you can’t find anything. Use dot points where you can and try to limit your birth plan to two pages.
- Introduce yourself and add other basic information. It’s nice to open with a helpful “nice to meet you” paragraph in your birth plan if something comes up, and you are working with physicians and nurses you have never met before. It is also helpful to include any health factors, especially those that could affect your baby’s birth.
- Keep your care team in the loop. Running your birth plan by an OB-GYN beforehand will allow for it to be thoroughly checked. The physician will be able to determine if any of your wishes may not be medically possible based on your situation. It is important to have consistent communication with your OB-GYN.
- Remember that things might not go as planned. Be flexible and know that some of these things are out of your control. We have teams of experienced OB-GYNs, midwives, lactation consultants, and nurses at our Family Birth Centers in Gilbert, Phoenix, or Chandler who strive to help you and your newborn have an exceptional experience.
Let us help you see your birth plan through.
At Dignity Health Arizona, we believe that you should experience childbirth in a way that meets your individual needs. Our family-centered environments are well-known for their commitment to exceptional care for mothers and newborns, and our Family Birth Center rooms are equipped with the latest technology needed to accommodate any birth.
Our Family Birth Centers in Gilbert, Chandler, and Phoenix are designed for your comfort and care during your labor, delivery, recovery, and postpartum stay. Each suite features a multi-position birthing bed, convenient for rooming-in with baby, a private bathroom with a shower, and a state-of-the-art fetal monitoring system, among other equipment necessary to provide quality care for you and your baby.
Childbirth is intense but incredible. A birth plan may help eliminate some of your concerns, allowing you to relax and embrace the experience. Dignity Health Arizona’s Family Birthing Centers are equipped to handle whatever you may be considering for your birthing plan. Find an OB-GYN today, or give us a call at (844) 597-0733 to schedule a tour of our spacious private birthing suites and meet our staff, who are ready to help you welcome your little bundle of joy.