Monday, July 18, 2005

Creating a Birth Plan

If you're expecting baby, you may have heard about the growing trend of preparing a birth plan. The birth plan is simply a document that lists your preferences for the delivery of your child. The birth plan can be a guide to help your doctor to ensure that you have a positive childbirth experience-- and even more so it can also help your partner or birthing coach know where you stand on things.

Because all deliveries can be unpredictable at best, it's important to keep in mind that no birth plan can ever be set in stone. But the birth plan can let your doctors know your feelings on things such as labor positions, medications, and episiotomies.

Your birth plan can be as detailed as you want it to be and you can go over it with your doctor during one of your routine prenatal visits. You should also take a copy of your birth plan to the hospital with you.

To create a basic birth plan, you should include the following information:

The name of the hospital you will be delivering at
Your expected due date
The name of your baby's pediatrician

You should then include any special instructions that need to be given. For instance, if you have been diagnosed with preclampsia or have been put on bed rest, indicate any precautionary measures that need to be taken.

You can then state your feelings on medications. You should have already done your research on this topic before you prepare your birth plan. Don't expect the anthesiologist to explain all of the different medications to you while you are in the middle of labor. The most common pain medication used during childbirth is the epidural. If you feel strongly that you do not want an epidural or any other pain medications, clearly state that on your birth plan.

If you have taken Lamaze classes, you may want to include instructions for your coach on what type of coaching you would prefer.

Indicate what you would like done in case of an emergency. If you have to have an emergency cesarean section, for example, or if you experience problems delivering the placenta, are there any special measures you want taken?

Next, include your preferences regarding the care of your newborn. For instance, if you are expecting a baby boy, do you want him to be circumcised? If your baby needs special care, is there a particular doctor that you want him or her to see? While we don't want to think that anything bad can happen (and more often than not things go just fine), you need to have a plan in case there are complications with you or your baby.

Birth plans are not for everyone and some doctors even find them to be a nuisance. If you feel strongly about having a birth plan and you doctor is not supportive of it, you should reconsider putting your care in that physician's hands. The delivery of your child is one of the most important things that you will ever experience. A birth plan can help you feel that you have at least a little control over things.

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