Build a birth plan so the chaos is controlled when you welcome your bundle of joy
Whether it’s your first time or your fourth, giving birth can feel overwhelming. And though you can’t plan for everything — and in the moment, you might change your mind about some points — you can minimize stress by preparing a birth plan that addresses many important decisions before the baby comes.
If you delivered your firstborn more than a decade ago (can you believe it?), the times have changed. Consider these eight points as you craft your birth plan.
1. Choose your doctors. Find the right one for the type of delivery you want and are medically cleared to have, and a pediatrician for baby.
2. Visit the hospital. Make sure you know how to get to the hospital (or birth center), where to park and where to check in.
3. Decide on your support group. Want a doula? Will grandmas be invited? Plan ahead who will be in the delivery room so that in the moment there are no hurt feelings, you don’t feel too crowded and you receive the support you need.
4. Plan for pain management. Your choice on what to use for pain management may change in the moment, but it’s wise to think about your wishes in advance and discuss them with your doctor, your spouse and whoever will be on hand for the birth.
5. Organize for special requests. Do you want equipment such as a birth ball? Do you want a mirror to watch the birth? Think ahead and write down what you would like to have in the room.
6. Arrange for pets or children. Talk with friends, families or neighbors who may help care for pets or children while you are in the hospital.
7. Bring your packed bag. Pack this ahead of time, and don’t forget to grab it on the way to the hospital!
Suggestions for what should be packed for mom:
- Insurance card
- Change of clothes, including a going-home outfit (maternity clothes are best)
- Nursing bra, nursing pads and maternity underwear
- Entertainment such as crossword puzzles or magazines
Suggestions to pack for the baby:
- Going-home outfit
- Socks or booties
- Diapers and wipes
- Infant car seat
8. Think about feeding. While breastfeeding has numerous benefits, both baby and mom have to be willing. (Sometimes it doesn’t work out!) Either way, research your options before your due date so you know your preference when the time’s right.
Take a video tour of the labor and delivery areas at the Vanderbilt Center for Women’s Health and learn about midwife options .