You've been dreaming of this day for as long as you can remember. Or, maybe it's the eighth time you've given birth and you want it to be different. Or the same. Whatever your situation, the day you give birth to your baby will be one you never, ever forget. A key to that day is a birth plan you've created to fit your needs perfectly. Here's birth plan template information you'll want to know when creating the perfect birth plan.

What is a birth plan?

In a few words, a birth plan is the template of what you'd like to have happen during your labor and delivery process. It's a detailed list of everything from who you want to be with you during labor to what (if any) pain medications you want. You can detail how you'd like the lights, what music you'd like playing and even what you'd like to be wearing or smelling from a diffuser.

But remember, the key word is it's a 'plan' and even the best laid plans don't always come to fruition. When creating the perfect birth plan, it's wise to be flexible and know you can plan for what you'd like to have happen but...things don't always go according to plan and that is okay. The end goal is for you and baby to be healthy and that's the best birth plan template to start with.

What Should I Include in a Birth Plan?

You really want your birth plan to include basics but in detail. And you want it to be something that's easy for all to read. While it'd be lovely if every clinician involved in your birth had the time to read pages about what you want your experience to be like, the truth is--they don't. And even if they did, many (sigh) would not. So it's important to make it easy for ALL to read.

Here's a basic birth plan template to be sure you include the following:

Information: Your name/your partner's name and an emergency contact. Also include your doctor's/midwife's name, your doula/birth partner and who else you want to be there with you (if allowed). List where you are planning to give birth in case something changes.

Describe your perfect atmosphere: List what would help YOU be most comfortable. Discuss lights, noise level, music (or not), labor pictures or video preferences and even whether you can have a diffuser for the right aroma. Labor is a grueling but sensory heavy process--make sure your senses are being fed as you need to take the pressure off the labor you'll be going through.

Labor Preferences: Speaking of labor....since that's why you're there and all....list preferences. Eat? (Yes, it's a thing and you need to let them know of food preferences). Do you want to be able to walk as you're laboring or prefer a chair or stool? Birthing ball? Shower or bath? Position? These are things to plan ahead.

In that, you'll also want to discuss pain management. You may not have a plan for an epidural or pharmacological intervention but that may change. If so, make sure you've walked through as many scenarios as you can in your head and detail pain medication/remediation information you prefer. If you want to be sure you're including massage and breathing in your labor, do so in your birth plan.

Delivery Wants: Discuss beforehand with your clinician but make SURE it's on your birth plan too! Detail your desires about possible episiotomies. Ask for a mirror to see baby as she's born. Who will cut the cord? Will it be delayed? Note you want baby on your body as soon as she's born for that skin-to-skin. These all seem like givens, but they're not always. And, if a C-section is needed, note preferences for that--whom to notify, who will be present, etc.

Postpartum Care and Feeding: If you want to nurse immediately after delivery, make sure that's known. If you want no formula supplementation, make sure that's known. If you want baby with you at all times, make sure that's known. You're the mama! Don't let anyone do anything or take your baby anywhere you don't want. But, also don't feel bad if you want baby to take a nap in the nursery so you can too. Just be sure all staff know your plans for baby (no pacifiers or bottles or formula or whatever).

If you're circumcising baby boys, make sure you note whether you want that with sugar water and even who should do it (pediatrician vs. OB).

Who Should Be Aware of And Know My Birth Plan?

Anyone who you plan to be part of the labor process should know about and review it. Period. Labor coaches, doulas, doctors, nurses, techs. Anyone who will be part of your process should know of your plans and you should have extra copies just in case. Don't feel like you're being pushy; you're helping ensure all are on the same page. Make sure your doctor or midwife has a copy for their records and make sure you discuss what's in the plan.

While some may tell you that a birth plan is basically a waste because nothing ever goes to plan, others will tell you that filling out a birth plan template that answered basic questions was the whole reason their births went so smoothly.

What will work for you may not work for another mother, and that's why birth plans are so individual and custom. Or they should be. Don't ever feel ashamed or guilty about having a list or the way you'd like things to go--we all have those desires and wants and this IS a huge life experience.

But also, be gentle with yourself should things not go according to plan. Don't hold yourself accountable for things out of your control and work with clinical care you trust and know is looking out for you and your baby. In the end, that team, combined with a birth plan you realize should probably be flexible, will offer the best birth experience for you!

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