For many mamas, a birth plan is a way to feel prepared for one of the most important events of our lives. Whether it’s your first baby or your sixth, it is always helpful to have the wisdom of other mamas to guide you. So we asked our knowledgeable Facebook community members to share the most important things that they would put in a birth plan if they were preparing one now. We got some very helpful responses.
Of course, each mama, baby and birth experience is unique–so the most important thing you can do is educate yourself and trust your gut. When it comes having a baby, mama knows best!
Here’s what 50 mamas from our community think you should consider when writing a birth plan.
Lyn D. – Put baby right to breast, delay cord cutting and keep baby with you 24/7, no bathing, no vaccines, no bottles or pacifiers
Amy W. – Labor and birth in the way that feels right (upright and active), no vaginal exams except by maternal request, intermittent monitoring by Doppler, physiologic pushing (no directed/purple pushing), no episiotomy, complete quiet/dark/privacy, no strangers, delayed cord cutting, baby straight to mama’s chest, skin to skin, no separation of mama and baby, no formula or sugar water…
Lisa F. – Hire a doula and a birth photographer.
Rebecca A. – No birth plan. Doing what feels right in the moment.
Amy A-M. – No cell phones
Marianne M. – Plan that things won’t go to plan
Shelly B. – Choose your hospital based on how they recover moms and babes after emergency c-sec. We had a home birth transfer. I wish I had preplanned to transfer to the one that recovers babies with moms. I had to be in recovery without baby for three hours (until I could move a toe) even though my hands and arms worked perfectly and my husband was able to hold baby if needed.
Denise R. – Have someone you trust do guard duty, to make sure everything possible is done the way you want. Of course you would have to make sure that person really knows what you want.
Afaf A. – I would have a more supportive group with me before, during and after the birth.
Sarah C. W. – Saw this on a birth site and it’s so perfect. “The power of a birth plan is not in the actual plan, but in becoming informed about your options. THIS is why it’s important to write your plan and go over it with your provider. You are likely to discover a lot that way.”
Laura K. C. – If opting for unmedicated birth, specify that providers should not ask if you want an epidural. During transition especially you are apt to doubt your ability to persist leaving you vulnerable to making a decision that’s inconsistent with your wishes.
Jessica C. – Give baby to me immediately for skin to skin–don’t whisk him/her away for weighing and washing and hatting!
Christine S-F. – Hiring a doula!
Marybeth N. – An open mind:)
Josie R. S. – Do not use clamps unless medically necessary. Ask me to push out the placenta
Heather S. B. – I would write one for both a vaginal birth and a c-section. I ended up with a scheduled c-section for medical reasons and give credit to my written plan for how well it went. I saw her before she was cleaned, got to do skin to skin in the recovery room, and breastfed within the first hour.
Amy B. M. – Remember while you have the best intentions your body and baby may have other plans. Trust that it will all be the way it was intended to be eventhough that is not how you planned. That does not diminish your experience it simply changes your desired plan. And that is OKAY.
Heather D. G. M. – You can change nurses!
Marian F. – Do not, under any circumstances, get into that classic labor position you see in the movies. It is the absolute worst. I would never have made it through labor in that position.
Tanya H. – I would add every single little detail I can think of and not assume “they” know.
Cat G. – If possible, and you are comfortable with it…. Giving birth in the water. That was such an amazing experience and so much better and helpful than when I didn’t.
Carrie Y. – Peace and quiet. Limit vaginal exams.
Simone R. – Make sure that your birth support person (I had an amazing doula) understands and supports your wishes in your birth plan and is comfortable with voicing and reminding others of them during your labour. In the throes of labour you may not have a strong voice and it is your body so your wishes should be heard! That being said, you do need to keep your ears open to suggestions as your labour may not progress the way you intended.
Erinn S. – No pitocin. Once they put that in you all of the other interventions will follow because you are in pain and will give in.
Tabitha D. – Hand that baby to me immediately, let the cord stop pulsing before cutting and let me keep him until I’m ready to get him get checked out and cleaned up!
Terra D. – No breaking of my water through artificial means.
Michelle S-S. – We focused on comfort and atmosphere—-music, soft lighting, a mandala focal point, tub, yoga ball, etc. then, we let it roll and put our trust in our midwives and OB’s. fully trusted their decisions along the way.
Ola P. – I think the birth plan was more for me – my OBGYN was informed and on it. However, the nurses at the hospital needed to know what I wanted and I needed to tell them. I needed to know by hard what I wanted and what’s really important and can’t change. And I needed to speak it cause no one has much time to read it once you’re in labor. I mean if it goes fast as in my case. But to answer your question, for me it was important to get the baby right after delivery, delay clamping, no paci, shots, no weighing, no nothing until we had our time together and the baby nursed.
Cyndi L. – Warm tub, no meds, baby right to chest/breast, delayed cord cutting, delay all treatments/bathing, no hat, baby & mom room together at all times.
Heidi I. – I would include a wish list of priorities in case of emergency
Amanda W. – I’d refuse to give consent for pitocin after birth.
Brittany P. B. – Don’t clamp the cord before its done beating. Very important. A third of their blood is in the placenta. They cut the cords before baby even starts breathing with their lungs. It’s rude.
Gena W. – Make sure the hospital has the best NICU with the highest level. I ended up having to take an ambulance to a hospital that had a higher level of NICU. I had a friend who’s baby had to be airlifted to a different hospital. She had to drive an hour away (a couple days later, after recovery) to be able to see her baby.
Jennifer C. V. – Hire a doula, hire a birth photographer, and reserve the right to change out the nurse if you are not jiving with them. Never let the baby leave your side, if the baby needs to leave you for health reasons have your partner go where ever the baby goes. And remember come to the door with your plan and be ready to be flexible to meet the needs of the moment, nothing ever goes as planed.
Ashley N. – To not leave the house or let anyone in
Tasauna E. – Have a very assertive Doula. I had a birth plan, my nurse could care less. My Doula stopped several things I had no idea was happening, including stopping the doctor from cutting me. They were in a rush…. Busy night
Meredith N. – Definitely to be able to walk. I wouldn’t have made it through without serious walking.
Shawn B. – Delay cord clamping and bath! Not accept a 39 week induction due to diabetes, I’d use that last week to self induce and then consider at 40 wks!
RE E. – To not circumcise my son. That’s important to have on there if that is what you choose. The next most important thing is that I do not want any interventions. 3rd most important would be that in case of an emergency I want baby to receive my milk or donor breastmilk.
Laura S. – Give a list to your hubby that says “kiss me. Make me laugh. Fetch me snacks and drinks. And call the family” he will be happier having his job written out.
Shok R. – Take more pictures and videos. I gave birth at 32.5 weeks. It was unexpected and VERY quick, I had no time to set the camera:(
Lara W. S. – Don’t have s plan and follow your instincts, be strong!
Amanda C. – Someone to be at the hospital all night after the birth– it was when my sister & husband went home that the nurses started harassing me to give the baby formula and to let him sleep in the nursery– neither thing I planned on, but which they kept haranguing me about at 3 and 4 and 5 (after I’d been up for a very long time giving birth!) while I was alone, until at 6 I gave in just to get some sleep.
Brooke B. – Don’t talk to me, ask me about, or even mention the word pain! Just leave me to my work!
Megan A. – As someone who had a birth plan, I’d suggest being flexible. The night I went into labor, my first, second, and third choice hospitals were full. My midwife did not work at the hospital I delivered in. And the nurses and doctors were very unfamiliar with hypnobirthing (my chosen method of labor). We went a week early – New Years Eve. No matter how much you plan, anything can happen! Be prepared to go with the flow, be gentle with yourself and others, and try to enjoy the small moments… It is life’s biggest miracle – and you get to be a part of it! (Heck! What your body will do IS a miracle!)
Jill H. F. – At the top…. “please read this birth plan.”
Megan Z. – To talk to my partner if I seem to be veering in the direction of asking for interventions. He may be stronger and more committed to what he knows I truly want, even in my moments of weakness.
Tamra C. T. – I would insist baby stay with mom 24×7
M. M. – I would take my doula’s advice and I would make it as short and simple as possible because nurses and doctors will not take time to read a lengthy birth plan. Bullet points that list what you want and what you don’t want. That is it.
Image Credit: Danny Cain
Originally published Jan 2015