A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Looking for a positive childbirth experience? Start with a birth plan

Photo of a pregnant woman reading a book

When preparing for childbirth, put together a birth plan to let your provider know your needs.

Every birth is different. However, according to womenshealth.gov, labor and delivery lasts up to 15 hours on average. Most of this time can be spent in the hospital with nursing staff or a certified nurse midwife. In order to provide a positive birthing experience for you, it is important to develop a birth plan.

“The process of birth is a beautiful, unknown journey where you don’t know exactly how you’ll get to the destination until you are there. You will need a few tools for the detours and twists and turns along the way,” said Alison Bennett, certified nurse midwife at Marshfield Clinic Health System. “Taking a childbirth education class, then creating a birth plan allows a more proactive role in your birthing experience.”

Create your birth plan

A birth plan is a way for you to communicate your wishes and wants to your midwife, nurse or doctor who care for you during labor. It explains the type of birth you would like to have, what you want to happen and what you want to avoid.

“Doing this ahead of time gets the patient thinking about their experience, what they envision, what their hopes and wishes are for their hospital stay,” said Ashley Landwehr, registered nurse supervisor for the Birth Center at Marshfield Medical Center in Marshfield. “Filling out a birth plan may open up ideas that the patient may not have thought about, and it also informs them about what type of services are offered at the hospital.”

How start your birth plan

You should fill out a plan prior to going into labor and have it ready for your health care team. Your OB-GYN provider also may discuss your plan with you ahead of time to find out more about your wants and needs during the experience.

“Birth plans help your care providers understand what is important to you,” Bennett said. “At times ‘detours’ from the plan can occur, however, your birth plan is always considered and your team of care providers will work hard to be sure you are involved in the decision making process.”

At Marshfield Clinic Health System, a handout is given to patients during pre-registration around 20-weeks gestation. Ask your OB-GYN provider about birth planning.

Download this handout to learn more.

Plan for after childbirth

Landwehr says she recommends choosing your pediatrician prior to when baby is born. “It is important that we know who the baby will follow up with after they are discharged from the hospital,” she said.

Other important decisions include vaccinations for your newborn. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an infant receives the Hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours after birth.

Talk to you OB/GYN provider about your birth plan options prior to baby’s arrival.

“This (birth plan) is just a great tool to use to guide providers and meet patients’ needs while keeping mom and baby safe,” Landwehr said.

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