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What Is a Birth Plan and Why Do You Need One?

Submitted by jrlaw on Sep 25th, 2009

Who would have thought there were so many options women have now-a-days when it comes to the birth of their child? Since there are so many options, many women are now creating a birth plan to make sure their wishes are met during that time. Rasansky Law Firm encourages all expecting women (and their partners) to have an updated birth plan and to discuss it at length with their medical team. This serves a dual purpose of educating your medical team about your wishes and keeping the birth process in focus for the labor. Labor can be overwhelming and the more that you understand about how things are supposed to go, the more you can intervene if events take you off track. According to Parenting.com, a birth plan is a written description of what the expectant parents would like to include and what they'd like to avoid for labor and the birth of their child. A birth plan might mention preferences about walking during labor, place of the delivery, use of camera/video, pain medication, and may be written with the help of a woman's health care provider. Childbirth.org has a birth plan form where expecting women can write in their instructions and answer several multiple choice questions. Here are some things to think about when creating your own plan. 1. Include dad in the birth plan. There are a number of choices mom has to make for labor and delivery. But in each case, there is a role for dad as well. If he is the labor coach, he should have lots of things to do to keep busy. Specify what dad is to do. 2. Plan ahead for labor. There are lots of options for laboring parents. You can specify in the birth plan whether you can walk around during labor. You can determine whether to have an enema or not. You can specify when to receive an IV, whether to watch videos or listen to music, and when dad and other non-medical people can be present. 3. Plan ahead for medications. As a couple, talk about your medication philosophy. Do you want pain medications and at what stage of labor? At what point, if any, do you want an epidural? If labor is not moving quickly, would you like a labor stimulant, or would you prefer more natural means? All of these should be included in your birth plan, and dad should communicate them with the medical staff. 4. Have a delivery plan, Once labor has moved into the delivery phase, you have even more choices. Decide, the position to be in for delivery. Do you want an episiotomy or not? Would you like a mirror placed so you can watch the delivery? Do you want to be able to take video or pictures of the experience? Does dad want to help cut the cord? Make sure and include all of it in the birth plan. 5. Include your postpartum desires. Once the baby has arrived, you have additional choices. Dad can specify in the birth plan that he would like to bathe the baby soon after birth. Often, the baby can even be bathed in the labor and delivery room. If the baby needs medical attention after birth, dad can usually come along if it is included in the birth plan. If you want the baby back ASAP, dad can help enforce that desire with hospital personnel. 6. Review the plan with the doctors. Once your birth plan is drafted, both parents should take the plan with them to a regular doctor visit and review and get the doctor's approval and signature. In addition, the plan should be reviewed with the baby's pediatrician and signed by him or her. Be prepared to defend your choices, particularly if they are not in the hospital's standard procedures. 7. Take the written plan with you. Put three copies of the plan in your overnight bag for the hospital trip and make sure one is put in your hospital chart, one stays with you in the room, and one is in dad's pocket. Often, you can leave a copy with the hospital staff when you have your prenatal class. Having lots of identical copies will help make sure you get your experience the way you want it. 8. Be prepared for emergencies. Sometimes labor and delivery will not go as planned. If there are medical concerns about the baby or the mom that override the birth plan, be ready to adapt. Even though you hope for a good experience, the health and safety of baby and you have to come first. Along with emergencies, occasionally mistakes are made. It’s unfortunate but does happen. The victim is often the most vulnerable, newborns who can suffer from nerve damage leading to cerebral palsy, bone breakages, loss of oxygen leading to brain damage. If you or a loved one, feels that your child or yourself has been affected by negligence or mistakes made by the doctor. We handle these cases and will be glad to evaluate yours for free.