A birth plan is a document that tells your healthcare team about your preferences for labor and your baby's birth, including things, such as who you want with you during labor and how you want to deal with labor pain.
Around 32 weeks, you will receive a MyCare message to remind you to start thinking about your birth plan. Please complete the electronic form in MyCare asking about your birth preferences. You will discuss your responses with your midwife or nurse between 30 to 33 weeks. This is also your opportunity to have questions or concerns addressed. Not a MyCare user? Sign up now.
Please keep in mind that labor and birth do not always go exactly as planned. We strive to provide flexible and responsive care. Sometimes, changes to your plan may be needed for the health and safety of you and your baby.
As you develop your birth plan, use this as your guide:
Some things we routinely do
We believe that birth is one of life's most significant events and that parents are the most important care providers for their newborns. For that reason we encourage family-centered care where babies stay with their parents as much as possible.
- At the time of birth, if circumstances permit, your baby will be placed on your abdomen for some skin-to-skin time for comfort and to keep warm.
- Your baby is dried with a warm blanket and evaluated by the nurse.
- After the umbilical cord stops pulsating, your spouse or support person will be offered the opportunity to cut the cord if he or she desires.
- If you are breastfeeding, we will help get that started as soon as possible.
- If you have a cesarean birth, if circumstances permit, you will be able to touch and see you baby right away. As soon as you are able, usually in the Recovery Room, you will have "snuggle time" with your baby and assistance with feeding.
Are you considering water birth, using our Birth Center, a Cesarean birth or VBAC? Learn more about each option.
Consider having only those who are most important or will be most helpful to you in labor. Certain circumstances may require that we limit the number of support people in your room. If Cesarean section is performed, only one support person is allowed in the operating room.
My primary labor support person will be:
Including children in the birth
If it's important to you that your other children be included in the birth, another adult such as a grandparent or family friend should accompany your children in case they require special attention or want to leave the room. If your children are too young or not ready, they can still be with you during your recovery and visit you and the baby during the rest of your hospital stay. Whatever you choose, your plans should be discussed with your physician or midwife.
If you have plans to videotape the birth of an infant, you will be asked to sign a consent form agreeing to abide by our videotaping policy.
Everyone has different tolerances for the discomforts of labor and birth. We offer many comfort measures:
- Hydrotherapy in a tub or shower
- Use of a birth ball
- Essential oils
- Position changes
- Soft music
- Dim lighting
- Relaxation and breathing techniques
The nursing staff will offer continuous labor support and encourage a variety of comfort measures. They will assist you in changing positions since changing positions helps the baby find the best way to fit through your pelvis. They will guide you and coach you in various relaxation and breathing techniques.
Pain management options
- Nitrous oxide
- IV pain medications
- Epidural – Medications for pain that numb your lower body can be administered through a catheter that is inserted into the epidural space of your spinal canal. Having an epidural limits the sensation of your legs and limits your mobility. You will receive fluids through an IV and need to remain in bed while you have an epidural. A catheter may be placed to empty your bladder. Occasionally, an epidural can cause slower, less effective contractions. In that case, the drug Pitocin may be needed to strengthen contractions. Although uncommon, after birth, epidural anesthesia can cause headaches or backaches in some women.
Think about what comfort measures you have found helpful in the past. What do you anticipate needing for pain management during labor?
Gundersen staff will not give out any information to anyone calling in, but calls will be forwarded to your room. You may dial "0" to have your calls held or "confidential status" may be assigned to your hospital admission if you prefer that no one is told that you are a patient in the hospital.
Many staff are available to assist you while you are in the hospital. Please let us know if you would like to see anyone from our Lactation Services, Nutrition Therapy, Spiritual Care or Social Services departments.
Questions and other important issues
What other questions do you have? Write them down and discuss them with your healthcare provider.