Your Birth Plan: Finding A Balance

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I currently have two friends who are pregnant for the first time and we are so excited for them! They are both thrilled and nervous. I recall that feeling very vividly and just like I was, they are filled with curiosity and questions. We recently had a conversation about my birthing plan and the day my son arrived. For me, it seemed like my plans were meant to be broken. Although I still believe that finding a balance of preferences and reasonable expectations will help your birthing experience go as smoothly possible.

I started out with a birthing plan template that I found online. There are a lot of templates out there and most of them are quite lengthy. Based on my experience, I would recommend keeping it as short and sweet as possible. I decided on my top ten preferences that were a priority for me and focused on those. These preferences are key in initially communicating with your nursing staff as they will be helping you through this journey. It is important for them to know about your hopes and expectations. But as much as I know they appreciate the information, I guarantee they aren’t going to take an hour to read through and memorize a three page long birthing plan.

I narrowed down my birthing plan down to seven preferences:
  1. Who do you want in the room with you during labor?  My husband was my partner, my mother and father were on standby just in case someone needed to tap out (my husband get’s quite queasy around needles). It is helpful to include names for the nurses to reference.  This is also a good opportunity to mention if you want limited hospital staff. I had an intern assist during my delivery. They should ask for your permission before entering the room, however if this is something you would prefer not to participate in, it’s a good idea to state that ahead of time.
  2. What health concerns do you have? Do you have Strep B, gestational diabetes or any other concerns the hospital staff should be away of?  I’m hypoglycemic and thought that was relevant information to share.  Since I wasn’t thirsty or hungry during my 12 hours of labor, this really didn’t come into play until the next morning.
  3. What do you want the atmosphere in the room to be like?  I wanted to keep the room calm. I had the lights low and the room quiet. In my opinion, this was essential in keeping me as comfortable as possible.
  4. What do you want to wear?  Again, in the name of comfort, I brought my own nightgown and slippers. They allowed it but only after they insisted I wear the hospital gown (I ignored their advice and put on my gown after they left the room).  The gown I chose was super soft, lightweight and stretchy which really worked out well at first. However, it turns out they insist for a reason because they eventually had to cut it off of me when things started to go south. I would say wear what you feel comfortable in but make sure it’s something you don’t mind getting destroyed.
  5. What procedures do you NOT want?  We did our research ahead of time and had decided absolutely no forceps or vacuums allowed. These were procedures that weren’t worth the risk in my opinion.  I also requested to not have an episiotomy, although that too turned out to be a moo point because my baby was stuck. After four hours of pushing, the only option was a c-section.
  6. What do you want to happen immediately after birth? I wanted skin-to-skin contact immediately after the birth of my son.  Unfortunately, because of the c-section, I wasn’t able to do this until almost an hour after he was born.  But it was still wonderful and I could have stayed like that for days.  Lastly, they may recommend having the baby stay the night in the nursery to allow you to get some much-needed sleep. We chose to decline this offer since we wanted to keep our baby in the room with us.
  7. What do you NOT want to happen after birth? A lot happens to your baby shortly after birth, from their first bath to multiple medical exams.  Make sure to indicate if you do not want any of the following for your baby: bathed by nurse, heel stick screening, hearing test, hepatitis B vaccine, vitamin K or antibiotic eye treatment.

  • Note: Sometimes hospital staff can be intimidating but trust your gut and ask questions. Know you have rights and you can say no. I was fortunate to have a really great nurse who was very calm, cool and collected. She was a great coach and also had a dry sense of humor which was exactly what I needed that day. Which reminds me, BRING GOODIES! All of the hospital staff (and there were a lot of them) that helped me and my son throughout this four-day long process are worth their weight in gold. I couldn’t thank them enough. I wish I could have pulled an Oprah and given them all cars or vacations or something. However, I have heard horror stories from other moms who were not so lucky and were unaware that they had other options. If you aren’t happy with your nurse, you are allowed to kick them to the curb and ask for a new one (most of the time they have multiple nurses on shift). I would recommend being polite in doing so or your next nurse might be just as bad.

Keep in mind that your labor will probably not go exactly as planned but I believe that showing up prepared with an open mind will lead to a beautiful birthing experience no matter what. In the end, I gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby boy. What more could I ask for?

I hope sharing my experience helps you to find a balance within your birthing plan and I wish you a safe and peaceful delivery day for you and your little one.


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