One really important part of my Hypnobirth was writing a birth preferences sheet for my care providers. This should be a part of any and all births–no matter what method is used. Birth involves YOUR body, and YOUR baby, and no one else should be making decisions for you about how you experience it.
I really like that Monica (my Hypnobirthing instructor) called these “birth preferences” instead of a “birth plan.” A birth plan is too restrictive…many times events will occur that take you away from that “plan” and this could lead to disappointment and frustration. Birth preferences are flexible…able to change as special circumstances occur. (I liked that we used “special circumstances” rather than “complications.”) Basically, in your birth preferences sheet you want to outline what you would prefer to have done should everything progress normally. Often, many of your preferences can be met, at least partially, even when the birthing process takes an unexpected turn.
Here is a copy of my birth preferences sheet: Fiona’s Birth Preferences. I took the time to make these look really nice and laminated them so that my care providers would know that they were important to me. We even attached candy bars to the top! Several of them commented on how nice it looked, and I was glad that it stood out to them so that they wouldn’t overlook it. In the end, every preference on my sheet was followed. The nurses were wonderful about everything that I asked.
In creating your own birth preferences, here are some areas to consider:
What method are you using? What should they know about it?
What would you like the atmosphere in the room to be like?
Would you prefer an IV or Heplock? Or neither?
How mobile would you like to be? What kinds of positions and comfort techniques will you be using? Jacuzzi? Birth Ball? Squat Bar?
Which of these items would you need to borrow from the hospital? Which will you provide?
How would you like fetal monitoring to take place? How often?
How do you feel about being offered medication? What medications do you plan to use, if any? How do you feel about pitocin if labor slows? What about breaking the water?
How do you feel about an episiotomy vs. tearing?
When your baby is born, what would you like the nurses/doctor to do with him/her? Immediately to your chest? Cleaned and weighed first? Which treatments would you like given to your baby, and which would you like withheld? How long before they cut the cord? Who should cut the cord?
How do you plan to feed your baby? How can the staff help you achieve that goal?
Do you prefer to have the baby with you at all times in the hospital, or in the nursery?
Taking the time to make decisions about these things and write them down for your care providers will make a HUGE difference in your birth experience. I am so glad I took the time to do this. Some of these things I didn’t even know about before I took my Hypnobirthing class! I am so grateful to Monica and my midwives for encouraging me to do this plan, and to all the hospital staff for respecting my wishes.