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When developing a birth plan it can be helpful to consider your needs and desires by category. Listed here are some sections that may help you when crafting your birth wishes list.

Our Family History

In this section, it can be a helpful tool to set the stage of your journey. Tell your story in a concise format so that staff can better understand the place you are now. Use language that feels good to you. For example, some families may say, “Our daughter died” and others may say, “We’ve had previous pregnancy loss(es).” These introductions of your family are often appreciated and help staff give the best care for you.

Our Wishes

Any specific requests, such as wanting the same or different room as previous birth experiences, can be included in this section. Sometimes specific staff feel more or less comforting, so having a conversation with your care provider and the charge nurse of your hospital ahead of time may be beneficial. You may also have particular rituals or coping techniques that you’d like staff to be aware of. The birth plan is a great tool to communicate these requests.

The Birth

This section can speak to the environment you’d like for labor. Some prefer dim lightning, minimal talking, and little staff presence (as long as not medically necessary). Others are reassured by more regular staff check-ins. Care staff like to hear your plan for the challenging parts of labor and what type of coping tools you plan to use, whether they be a nice warm shower or an epidural. This section is where your more specific birth preferences can be included.

Newborn Expectations

The moment of birth is often full of deep and passionate responses. Some women may need a moment to process and others may want their baby to be immediately on their chest. You may find yourself wanting the baby to be directly examined by the doctor, or you may really value the benefits of skin-to-skin and exploring your baby (assuming there is no medical reason otherwise). You may want lots of pictures of the birth or you may ask that no one else be present but your support team. There are specific newborn procedures that you may ask be done while skin-to-skin or delayed until after bonding and early breastfeeding.

Postpartum

This section gives you the opportunity to share with staff what your potential plan is for the first few hours or days of parenting. You may want to do exclusively rooming in, or if baby goes to the nursery you may need more frequent check-ins for reassurance. Some plan to stay as long as possible and others are interested in heading home as soon as everyone is medically able. You can list what sort of feeding goals you have, whether that breastfeeding, bottle feeding breastmilk, or formula feeding. It’s also helpful to include what sort of support and education you expect from staff; some folks are more “we’ll ask if we need help” sort of people and others want to be given more direction.

Our Family Visitors

Some families feel comfort when other members of their family come to meet the baby as soon as possible. Others want to take this time to appreciate their new family, have time for bonding, and process their own emotions. It’s important to reflect on these thoughts before birth and with your partner, if applicable so that you can in turn set these boundaries ahead of time with family.

*Photo Source: “Flower” by solarisgirl @ Flickr

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