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3 Must-Haves for Your Birth Plan: Make Your Desires Known

Helping you birth without fear is a key part of Sweet Bee’s vision. You have the right to bring new life into this world the way you desire. As a doula, I work to help protect you from reproductive trauma, which includes empowered experiences for you and your baby before, during and after labor and delivery. A personalized birth plan is one tool we use to create the pregnancy and birthing journey of your choice.  

I work with my clients to create a unique, comprehensive birth plan − a written document that makes your pregnancy, birthing, and immediate postpartum wishes clear for everyone involved. You know your body and your desires, therefore, it is critical you advocate for yourself and your baby by communicating them. Clients feel empowered when they are informed of options in the birth process and then declare how they envision welcoming their new little bee. 

If you don’t know where to start, I’ve got you covered! Here are three must-haves for your birth plan: 

No. 1: Your “all-star” birth team.
You need to develop an all-star team to be there with you and your baby. Think about who you want to support you specifically. Good birth support includes people who encourage and calm you, build your confidence, and follow your wishes. This is not the time to ignore your intuition or boundaries.

Will you be receiving your prenatal care from a midwife and/or an obstetrician? Do you know their c-section rates? Do you know if you’ll see the same practitioner throughout your pregnancy or will you see several folks from the office? Whichever support you choose, it is important to list specifically in your birth plan who you would like in the room during your labor. You might be someone that wants family members and/or friends with you as you labor,  just your partner, your doula, a doctor, or a combination of any of these. You can also create a separate list for those who you want in the room during delivery or immediately after.

Overall, keep in mind that you have the right to create the birthing experience you want, which includes the people you want support from at this very special time. You also have the right to change this list at any time. Sometimes, I encourage clients to have a safe word or signal that helps us determine when someone’s presence isn’t the most helpful. It is important that members of your team communicate well with each other and know the exact role they will play. Be sure to provide the contact information and a back-up choice for each member of your birth team along with your chosen pediatrician. 

No. 2: Location, location, location.
Where you give birth impacts your experience just as much as who is around you. You have the power to decide where you want to give birth, whether it be a hospital, your home or a birthing center. 

Wherever you choose to have your baby, it is important to understand what types of birthing options they provide. If you want to deliver in a hospital, know that you are under the care of medical professionals trained to keep the labor process under control with certain interventions, procedures, and policies. Most often clients choose hospitals because of cost coverage and/or comfort with their provider.  I also encourage clients to inquire about a hospital’s c-section rate, NICU and emergency c-section procedures when choosing a facility.

Some hospitals practice family-centered care, which can include a more gentle approach to c-sections, delivery and postpartum rooms with space to accommodate a partner, and keeping baby always in the family’s room. Usually families leave a hospital within 2-3 days of baby’s arrival. 

Birthing centers provide the comfort of a relaxed birthing environment and more immediate medical support in case of an emergency, as they are staffed by midwives and connected to specific hospitals. These are great options for those who are not considered high risk during pregnancy and don’t want to deliver in a hospital or their home. Here, clients have much more freedom to embrace the labor process without medically unnecessary interventions. Families usually go home within 12 hours of delivery. If you’re fortunate enough to have a birthing center nearby, ask about their emergency transfer protocols for the birthing person and baby. 

For a home birth, your midwife and doula will work with you to ensure you have all the necessary items on hand. You will also outline how you desire to handle contingencies or complications in your birth plan. Often, clients choose a homebirth because they want to be comfortable and free during labor, and they have been cleared of high risk pregnancy considerations by their healthcare team. Home births are also often where your team is the least intrusive. Your midwifery team and doula will allow you to take the lead as long as you and baby are healthy throughout your labor and baby’s arrival.

No. 3: My baby is here. What now?
What do you want to happen for you and your baby immediately after you deliver? When you’re finally greeting your new little bee, the last thing you’ll want are folks asking a barrage of questions or acting based on assumptions that contradict your wishes. 

For example, who do you want to cut the umbilical cord? Will you be breastfeeding or using formula? Do you want the baby placed on your chest immediately after birth, or do you want them cleaned up first? Newborn procedures are also important, including your choices regarding circumcision if it’s a boy; where you want your baby to sleep (with you or in the nursery); testing to be performed on your baby; and preferences for care if your baby needs to go to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).   

Keep in mind that you will never have total control over how your labor and delivery will ultimately turn out. It is a journey. However, making your decisions clear in a birth plan will help ease your anxieties and reduce stress during labor. It also offers flexibility to adjust based on a goal if something does not go exactly as planned. 

Supporting birthing people is an ancient art. As our methods change with time and cultural expression, I maintain that cultivating empowering relationships makes the journey of welcoming new little lives much smoother. I make my clients feel safe to ask questions, express their fears and concerns, and understand that they are not alone in the process. Their answers inform their birth plan and give them confidence to assert their boundaries. Girded with clear directives and desires, my clients can better manage the stress of this major life transition. 

Are you getting ready to welcome a new life? Let me help you create your informed birth plan. Check out my services list and book a consultation today. I can’t wait to connect with you!