A Birth Plan for Your Baby

By: Jennifer Cole | Newborn Procedures | June 13, 2021

When you are preparing to give birth, it’s easy to forget a basic fact that is at once obvious yet often overlooked: This is your baby’s birth. They will only get to experience their first moments out of the womb ONCE. 

How do you want them to feel when they are born? 

The first words that come to mind are probably loved, peaceful, calm, and safe. But to ensure they get to experience all of these things, especially when giving birth in a hospital, requires some planning and preparation on your part. The conditions that foster these qualities are not the norm so it will be up to you to make sure they are put in place by your care providers. And that’s where having a birth plan comes in.

You may already be familiar with the idea of a birth plan since they are frequently used to convey what you would like to happen during labor and childbirth. However, a better term for it is birth “preferences,” because you must remain flexible. Somehow the word “plan” doesn’t quite capture the reality of the situation—it implies that the birthing person is in charge when in fact it’s your baby who decides when and how they want to arrive in the world. 

Birth Preferences Are Not Just for the Birth!

The birth preferences you walk into the hospital with shouldn’t end with the birth. Identifying what your preferences are for your baby’s immediate care postpartum is the best way to protect your bonding time in the first hours after birth. It can mean the difference between a chaotic experience or a calm, centered beginning for you both. Without birth preferences, you will receive the hospital’s “pre-fixe menu” with no substitutions. This is because hospitals handle a large number of birthing people and babies every day and must standardize their procedures to streamline the process. 

Unfortunately, the “pre-fixe menu” of newborn procedures that are provided at hospitals has probably not been updated with the latest evidence-based practices in a while. This means that they may not yet have altered their standard of care to promote uninterrupted skin-to-skin bonding between parent and baby. Even though this practice has been endorsed by The World Health Organization (WHO), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM), and the Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP).” 

With Your Birth Preferences, it’s YOUR Choice!

However, unlike the “pre-fixe menu”, your birth preferences allow you to choose from the “a la carte” menu where you can request evidence-based procedures that promote uninterrupted bonding time with your baby. It’s not complicated—with a few minor modifications things like checking the baby’s temperature and heart rate can be performed without moving them off your chest and over to the baby warmer. Non-urgent procedures like weighing and measuring the baby and administering their vitamin K shot can be postponed until you and baby have had thorough bonding time and baby’s first latch—ideally, more than one—has occurred.

Imagine for a moment that your baby has found the comfort of your breast when the vitamin K shot is administered. It’s possible that they might not even flinch when they get the shot if they’re nursing and feel safe, warm, and protected on their parent’s chest.

Understanding the benefit of keeping vernix on the skin intact and avoiding the baby hat can also benefit the baby. Just make sure it’s on your preferences sheet and that you and your partner are prepared to remind your care providers of your preferences once baby has arrived. The staff may have read it hours before —or gone through a recent shift change—so they might need to be reminded again.

Let Your Partner Be The One To Ensure Your Postpartum Preferences Are Being Followed

Allow your partner to be the one who will be in charge of communicating these preferences for your baby. Your priority for the first few hours postpartum should be connecting with your child and processing the life-changing event you just experienced. Your partner can be the one who ensures your bonding with the baby remains as calm, peaceful, and uninterrupted as possible.

When you understand how the normal newborn procedures that are carried out in the majority of hospitals run counter to the most up-to-date, evidence-based data about parent-baby bonding, the blueprint you will want to follow will become clear. Keeping baby with you uninterrupted for as long as possible has lots of benefits for your baby and for bonding. You have choices to make—now is the time to get well educated on what they are so you can protect those sweet first hours with your baby.

Learn how to create a crystal clear birth plan in our Newborn Procedures course. Click Here!

About the author:
Jennifer Cole CD(DONA) DONA Certified Birth Doula and Hypnobabies Certified HypnoDoula supporting families throughout San Diego County.

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