If you’re planning on birthing naturally—i.e., without medical intervention like an epidural or C-section—it’s important to have a birth plan in place before your little one makes his or her appearance. A birth plan provides guidance to the medical team in charge of caring for you and your baby during labor and delivery, while also giving you concrete goals to work toward during this exciting time in your life.
What are your main birth preferences?
Before you get started writing your birth plan, you should think about what your main preferences are for how you want things to go down. Your main wishes might include anything from whether or not you want your partner or doula present in labor, if there’s a certain position that’s most comfortable for pushing, and even where you want to give birth (home? hospital?). This is a good place to start before deciding on all of those extra details.
Can you deliver naturally in a hospital?
If you want a natural childbirth, you’ll have to be prepared for every scenario. To do that, it’s important that you know ahead of time whether or not your health care provider will allow you to deliver your baby naturally. Will they support your wishes? Know in advance so that you can prepare yourself mentally and make sure all of your plans are in place!
Talk to your doctor about pain relief
Even if you want a natural birth, you might want pain relief. Doctors will often recommend something like an epidural. Speak with your doctor about how long labor can realistically last and what types of pain relief are available during labor. The more informed you are, the better equipped you’ll be to make a decision that’s right for you and your baby.
Be prepared for labor and recovery
Being prepared for your labor and recovery is paramount for having a safe, natural birth. By planning ahead, you can make informed decisions that will improve your quality of life during childbirth. Remember: You’re not just giving birth to a baby—you’re giving birth to a new life as well. And what better way to kick off that new life than by taking steps to ensure both you and your baby have a healthy start?
Consider other alternatives, if necessary
If you’re convinced that a natural birth is right for you, but your hospital doesn’t support natural options (or have too few staff members who are certified in water births), talk with your OB-GYN about using another hospital. He or she may not be able to make arrangements, but as long as it’s clear that it’s your wish and you’re willing to travel if necessary, he or she should respect that.
Talk to your partner about his role during labor
As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, it’s important for your partner to get on board with your birth plan. He may have no interest in being present during labor, but you should still sit down together and talk about how he’ll support you in other ways—whether that means making food or calling family members. Of course, if he is planning on being there for your delivery, discuss that too.
Review your natural birth plan with your doctor/midwife.
It’s essential to review your plan with your doctor/midwife at least a week or two before your due date. That way, you can make any necessary adjustments—ideally, keeping everyone on board and on-plan (pun intended). If your doctor/midwife is not supportive of natural birth plans, it may be best to seek out care from someone who shares your views.
Keep track of all stages of labor as it occurs, if possible.
Before you know it, your contractions will increase in frequency and intensity. Some women feel discomfort on their sides or lower back and may wonder if they’re supposed to be experiencing those pains—and for how long. Record what kind of discomfort (if any) you feel in each stage so that you can refer back to it when your labor begins in earnest. Keep a pad by your bed, write things down on your smartphone, use whatever works best for you—but make sure you keep track as labor progresses!