Northern Westchester Hospital Maternity Nurse Talks Birth Plans

Posted on: May 27, 2014

Making it Your Birth Experience

By RoseMary Stevens, RNC-OB, Northern Westchester Hospital

birth_planA Birth Plan is a document that tells your health care provider and the hospital staff what kind of childbirth experience you would like to have and how you would like your newborn cared for.

When to write a birth plan:
A good time to write your birth plan is towards the end of your pregnancy, after you’ve had a discussion about your childbirth plans and preferences with your healthcare provider and a chance to research what your hospital offers in terms of routines and care. It’s also a good idea to share the plan with your partner and your family if they are going to participate.

What to include in your birth plan:
Who you want in attendance at your delivery: partner, friends, relatives, doula and children. Studies show that women who have the continuous support of someone close to them have a more positive experience.

Read what other parents have said
about having their babies at Northern Westchester Hospital.

Hospital admission and procedures:
1) Do you want to have the option to return home if you are not in active labor?
2) Do you have any restrictions regarding who cannot be present during your labor and delivery (such as students, other hospital personnel etc.)
3) Diet: Most health care practitioners will allow their laboring moms to be to eat a clear liquid diet if they having an uncomplicated labor.
4) IV vs. Oral hydration: unless your pregnancy is high risk or there is a medical reason (for example if you have diabetes, require antibiotics, or are at risk for bleeding) most hospitals will not routinely require an IV be inserted for spontaneous labor. If you want an epidural you will need an IV.
5) Restriction of Movement during labor/ Fetal monitoring: Moms in early labor are encouraged to move about freely during early labor with some intermittent monitoring after they have completed an initial monitoring strip to determine fetal well-being. Most hospitals have policies which require the fetal heart rate and uterine contractions be monitored at specific intervals during your labor. If you are having an induction/augmentation of labor most hospitals require your baby’s heart rate be monitored continuously.

Pain Management/Relief: There are many different pain relief options ranging from breathing and relaxation techniques to an epidural block. When your pain is under control it is often easier for you to help with the birth. Your birth plan will include your preferences, but you can always change them as you go.

Cesarean Section: If you know you will be having a cesarean section you may want to think about what kind of pain relief you want, and if you want your partner to attend. If you were to need an emergency birth what would you choices be?  Include these in your birth plan.

When your baby arrives:
• Does your partner or support person want to cut the umbilical cord?
• Have you chosen to bank your baby’s cord blood (You’ll need to arrange for this process several weeks in advance.)?
• Would you like all procedures and tests to be done while your baby is in the room with you? Some procedures can be delayed to give you a chance to feed and bond with your baby.
• Do you plan to breastfeed or formula-feed? Evidence shows that the best time to begin breastfeeding is within the 30 to 60 minutes after birth, when the baby is most alert. This is also the perfect time to begin bonding with your baby. You can have your baby placed on your belly/chest right after birth. This skin-to-skin contact makes it more likely that breast feeding will be a success.
• Do you want your baby to have a pacifier?
• Rooming-in – most hospitals encourage you to be with your baby as much as possible. Rooming-in, rather than keeping the baby in the nursery, promotes bonding.

These are just some of the more common items most Mom-to-Be s’ include in their birth plans. Drafts for Birth Plans can be found online at the Bump, and BabyCenter and all can be customized for your unique situation and preferences.


Editor’s note: As you plan for the arrival of your baby, please consider attending one of our many Childbirth and Parent Education Classes.