Any of you new mommies out there reading this post and thinking… wtf is a “birth plan?” When I was first pregnant, my idea of a “birth plan” was that at the end of pregnancy, your body pops out a baby. I mean, that is ultimately what happens right? Not much planning needed for that, it is pretty self explanatory. My friends, I am here to tell you that after experiencing it I have discovered there is a bit more to it than just simply having the baby. There are a lot of options for you, an almost (or entirely) overwhelming amount of options, which means you will have to make some decisions. Especially as you get towards the end of pregnancy, this should make your top list of things to do. Creating a birth plan can be quite the art (if you’re into typing it in a pretty template and printing. I’m totally into that.) and really beneficial for you as you go to deliver your baby, To help with that, I’ve gathered some information and things to consider when coming up with your birth plan so that by the time the big D-Day comes, you’re ready!

First off…. what exactly IS a birth plan??

Your birth plan is very personal to you, because it is literally all about YOU. It is your plan for how you want the delivery of your baby to go. What are your expectations? Are you wanting a vaginal birth or c-section? Are there special things that you want to have happen immediately after birth (i.e. skin-to-skin, breastfeeding, dad to cut cord, etc.)? This plan is for you to prepare how you would prefer things to go, and to help the professionals with you as a reference to make sure things are going that way.

Second… realize that plans don’t always go perfectly, and that is OK.

Ask any mama out there, parenting is ALL about surprises, and often things do not go as planned. It is still very important for you to write out your birth plan so that you can prepare to do things the way that you dream of doing them, but when things don’t go straight according to the plan you have written out, know that it is OK to just yell, “plot twist!” and then move on. You never know what circumstances may arise causing your plans to change, so make the plans that you want and then keep the pirate’s code in mind, “they’re more like guidelines than actual rules.”

NOTE:  I’m not a medical professional (duh) and won’t pretend to be, so take any of this advice with the understanding that this is based on my opinions which have been formed through experience and research. Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s continue.

How do I “write” this birth plan?

This is all up to you. If you are the type that likes to write everything down and then hand it to the professionals, that’s great. For me personally, I just talked with my doctor and all the nurses (and CNAs, and midwives, and the other hospital patients, and anyone else that would listen) about what my wishes were. I know many delivery rooms use a whiteboard to write down the bullet points of your birth plan. You can find a printable birth plan online. Or you can take some time to make a pretty plan on cute paper. I’m totally into doing that kind of stuff. But I’m also totally lazy, so it didn’t happen. Kudos to you moms that do… please send me photos so I can live through your creativity.

Keep it short and simple, straight to bulletpoints or short sentences. Most people (especially busy nurses, doctors, etc.) don’t have the time to read an entire novel about your dream birth unfortunately, and you don’t want any of the important things to be missed because they were hidden in a half-page length paragraph. Cut straight to the point and make sure your preferences are easy to understand and clear. I’d recommend staying within one page. I also heard someone suggest maybe having one page for labor/delivery, and one page for recovery/postpartum care, which I personally thought was a pretty good idea (storing that in my vault of clever ideas of pregnancy *wink)

What goes IN the birth plan?

Pretty much anything that your sweet little heart desires. Start with some of the basics, and then research anything and everything that you can find when it comes to all of your options. Being educated about what you are doing will help you to make the decisions that are best for you. Below I’ve made a list of some things to consider putting into your birth plan (because we’re all visual learners, right?)

-What kind of delivery will you have- vaginal or c-section?

-Do you want to be induced if it is needed?

-Who is going to be in the room with you?

-Where do you want to deliver? The hospital? Your home? A birthing center? Somewhere else?

-Do you plan on doing a water birth?

-Epidural or other form of medicine? (you moms that go natural, I imagin that is so empowering and you rock. I’m a wuss when it comes to pain, but I still rock even though I got an epidural because I birthed a human. No matter what you choose moms, you know yourself best and you all rock.)

-Will the person delivering your baby be a doctor, midwife, doula, husband, or someone else?

-Do you care who cuts the cord?

-Will someone be taking photos or video?

-Are there pushing positions you prefer to use?

-Do you plan to bank cord blood or save the placenta (for those who don’t know, yes, it is a real thing!)

-Immediately after baby is born, do you plan skin-to-skin?

-Do you want to hold baby immediately on your chest after delivery or have him/her cleaned up first?

-Are you going to allow visitors, and if so, then when will you allow them? (while in labor, a few hours after delivery, after you get home)

-Will you breastfeed or bottlefeed, and will the feeding happen immediately after birth or will it be a few hours later after everyone gets cleaned up?

-Will baby stay in the room with you or in the hospital’s nursery? Is anyone else staying with you and do they have a place to sleep if so?

-If you have a little boy, will you circumcise him?

-Which vaccines will you get at the hospital and which will you do at their first appointment?

-If the baby is crying, may medical staff use a pacifier, bottle, or other soothing procedures?

-If you are at a learning hospital (I was) are you ok with medical students and additional staff participating in the delivery and recovery?

-Are there methods you prefer to use for pain treatment after baby is born? (do you prefer certain types of pain medication over others, have allergies, etc.)

Hopefully these cover most of the basics and if you have any others you would add or think I should include, list them in the comments below! Good luck and happy birthing, mamas!