Today I’m talking all about preparing a birth plan and the best free tool to put yours together. If you’re pregnant, whether it’s your first baby or your fourth, this post is for you! This post is part of our “Conversations to have before baby” series. Be sure to discuss the questions at the end and, if you’re interested in the rest of the series, drop your email in at the end of this post.
My past birth experiences
We are just days away from meeting baby number three!
This is possibly our last baby and my last time giving birth, and so I have been thinking a lot about my first two hospital birthing experiences and what I want this one to be like.
With Lincoln, I had planned (and not really prepared for) an unmedicated birth which resulted in an induction and plenty of meds. I am grateful for the sweet nurses who showed no judgement when I first told them about my desire for no pain medication before the Pitocin started…and who continued to smile and be supportive when I practically begged for an epidural 30 minutes into the Pitocin contractions.
17 months later with Adelaide, I made no birth plan at all. I had an epidural when dilated to 8 cm about an hour after arriving at the hospital, three and a half hours from my first contractions.
This time around, I’m being a bit more intentional about preparing my body + mind for the birthing process and feeling really excited about it!
It started off with a worry that labor will go so fast this time and I won’t be able to get an epidural. One of the most terrifying things I can imagine is that desperation + hopelessness of having nothing to take away that pain.
I looked into breathing + relaxation techniques so I have some tools to cope with the sensations that come with labor, just in case. Now I’m getting excited about the possibility of a totally different birth experience.
I still have a lot to practice with breathing + relaxation techniques. And, at the end of the day, it is a healthy baby that matters. So, in addition to a few audio books I’ve been listening to, I’ve been reading articles and prepping a birth plan to take to the hospital.
Creating a birth plan
Have you made an official birth plan before going to the hospital before?
I have some vague recollection of my OB asking me some questions on preferences at a regular appointment, but I have no idea if those went onto my chart or if my hospital team saw them. I also remember sitting down to try and write one on my own and having no idea where to start or what to include.
This time around I’m using MyBirthPlan.com and LOVE how simple, straightforward, and detailed it is. The site walks you through many of the decisions you’ll need to make before or during your delivery. The process is broken up into smaller sections including:
- Labor Preferences
- Plan for the Unexpected
- First Moments Together
- Important Personal & Medical Information
It is easy to save as you go along and come back and edit after you’re done.
Whether you’re planning an unmedicated vaginal delivery or dreaming of that epidural (or something in between) this tool walks you through your preferences, so you have them on hand for your birthing team.
I appreciated that it helped me think through a few things I hadn’t considered yet (like my preferences on how I’d like to handle a C-section if it was required and who I want in the room during delivery other than Ben). There are so many parts of birth that can go differently than planned and this helps me feel more prepared knowing I’ve thought through them (and written it all down).
There were also preferences on things I’d forgotten about like “delayed cord clamping,” which is something I know I want but I haven’t thought about in a few years. I would have possibly forgotten to communicate to my health care team if it hadn’t been included in the MyBirthPlan tool.
When I came across the HepB vaccine question I clicked the button for more info to remember what it was and why the hospital would ask about it. Now it is all neatly typed into my birth plan that I can hand over on arrival at the hospital.
The whole thing took me less than 10 minutes and I feel more relaxed and prepared knowing this is off of my third trimester to-do list.
P.S. MyBirthPlan.com also has a whole library of articles on pregnancy + delivery that I’ve been browsing. I’ve saved the third trimester checklist, read through these common labor questions, and found this summary helpful on what to include in a birth plan.
Are you feeling more comfortable with your birth plan? Here are some questions to talk through with your partner tonight:
Questions to ask:
- Where should we plan on delivering? What are the risks and benefits?
- What are your thoughts on medications during delivery?
- Will we send the baby to the nursery at the hospital?
- Will we have visitors?
- Are we doing anything special with the placenta or cord blood?