Making a Birth Plan
Working together on a written birth plan is a not only a good way to communicate with your doctor about how you would like your birthing experience to be, it can also be a great way for you and your partner to bond over the impending birth itself.
A birth plan lets your family, friends, and medical team know what you would most prefer in the birthing experience. Just remember, it may need to change. Your parents may have simply relied on doctors to tell them what to expect, but recent generations are generally more actively involved.
Of course, once you've finished writing the final version of your plan, don't forget to give it to your practitioner so that it can be included in your file. You might also pack an extra printout to pack in your suitcase for the trip to the hospital, since your doctor may not remember to bring it. If your practitioner isn't available on the day you go into labor, having that extra printout will be a godsend to the delivery expert on call, whom you may not have ever met before the blessed moment arrives.
What to Include in Your Birth Plan
You'll want to be as specific as possible when writing your birth plan. Here are some things you need to include:
The method you've chosen for delivery (Lamaze, Bradley, Hypno-birthing, Grantly Dick-Read, or the LeBoyer Method)
A section about where you intend to give birth (at home, in the hospital, or at a birthing center)
Your plan for how you'd like to manage pain and monitoring of you and your baby
Thoughts about the atmosphere you'd most appreciate (i.e., warm lights, soft music, or even a water birth)
Who should be in attendance, and why you want them there (include a call list and try to limit the number of participants); note that insurance regulations or hospital rules may limit participants to your partner and possibly one other person
Whether you'll allow any relatives to videotape or photograph the experience
How soon you'd like to hold the baby after giving birth
How you'd prefer to have emergency information presented to you.
It May Change over Time
While it's great to have a written birth plan early on in your pregnancy, keep in mind that a lot may change over the next several months before baby's arrival. For one thing, you may well decide to change several elements in the plan based on what you've learned from your doctor, a close friend, or at a birthing class. Like any good plan, you'll need to build in some flexibility so that you can easily modify the plan later on without getting yourselves too far off track.