Make sure you know what's in your partner's birth plan. When she goes into labor, it will be up to you to make sure her wishes are honored whenever possible. You might also want to make sure your own desires are included in the plan. If you want to be in the labor and delivery room at all times, and if you want to "catch" your baby as he comes out of the birth canal, say so!
A birth plan is a written list of your needs and preferences during your labor, delivery, and hospital stay. Birth plans are very popular right now and most pregnancy books include information about them. A birth plan will help you think about what you would like during labor and delivery, but it isn't a binding contract or a set of rigid instructions for your health-care providers. After all, these are the people you have chosen to care for you, and you trust them to make sound medical decisions. The point of a birth plan isn't to "tell" your health-care providers how to deliver a baby, although some books say that your birth plan should instruct your physician if you want an IV during labor or if you want internal or external fetal monitoring. But how can you possibly know what will be medically necessary at your delivery? More often than not, these kinds of decisions are based on your needs at the time. Perhaps the best policy is to trust your caregiver to do what's needed, just as you have throughout your pregnancy.
Still, a good birth plan will help you think through the things you do have control over. It's always a good idea to familiarize yourself with options before they're needed. So if you'd like a birth plan, take the time to learn about the procedures involved in labor and delivery.
This printable birth plan checklist will help you get organized. Read each question and decide what you want to put in your birth plan. When you know what you want, bring the plan to your doctor so the two of you can look it over. She will be able to tell you if the things you ask for are possible. It's better to discuss these things now, rather than when you're in labor.
When you put the answers to these questions down on paper you will have a birth plan to discuss with your doctor. Bring it with you wherever you go to deliver; it will help your physician and other health-care providers to better understand your needs.
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth © 2004 by Michele Isaac Gliksman, M.D. and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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