If you haven’t already done so, start drafting your post birth plan now.
I know. I know. You’re sick of planning and writing things down in anticipation of something, for which no amount of preparation will prepare you.
Here’s the thing. So much happens in the first 24 hours of giving birth, and while you think the hard part is done, it’s just the beginning.
In the same way a birth plan can help you feel confident and safe about your birth, a postpartum plan can help guide your birth team to optimize their support for you and your new family.
For instance, if you want immediate post birth bonding with your baby, make that known in your post birth plan. Too often I’ve heard about babies being whisked away from the mom right after delivery, only for the little guy to be poked, prodded, measured, wiped down, and burrito-wrapped before being handed back to mom.
Like your birth plan, the postpartum plan is all about honoring your preferences. Share those preferences with your OBGYN or birth team.
Here’s what our birth and after birth plans looked like. We’re very visual people and the hospital staff seemed to like the icons. [You can find the birth plan icons here and the explanation of the icons here.]
Additional postpartum preferences can include:
- Requesting for a lactation consultant to visit
- Requesting to have or prevent certain people from being in the recovery room
- Your preferences for or against bottles, pacifiers, and formula
- Desire to have at least one parent present should a medical procedure be necessary
Tips to consider when writing your plans:
- Set a positive tone to encourage those who will be working hard along side of you
- Keep them short and sweet (one page ideally, two pages max)
- Show and discuss your preferences with your birth team or OBGYN
- Have your doctor sign off on your preferences and have her send them to your hospital ahead of time
- Pack a physical copy of the plan in your to go bag
- Stay open and flexible to change because life rarely goes according to plan
Our success with the plans when things didn't go accordingly
We really wanted a natural birth. I’d undergone a lot of medical intervention to conceive and wanted so badly to make up for it on the tail end by giving birth naturally. My son was almost two weeks overdue, so I was induced.
Induction was a top fear of mine. In my head induction = pitocitin = really intense contractions = fetal distress = epidural = emergency C-section. I was tethered to an IV, strapped to several monitors checking vitals, and I couldn’t eat food. This scenario already nixed a few of my birthing preferences.
I ended up delivering vaginally with a vacuum assist. But most of my birth preferences and all of my postpartum preferences were honored. We ended up changing our minds about a few items at the hospital (like the mirror and hep B shot).
Although not everything went according to plan, I’m so glad we had our desires stated ahead of time. They initiated a positive rapport with the nursing staff. The nurses really worked with and encouraged me to stick with my preferences, especially during those really intense contractions.
When my son was close to coming out, the nurse told me there was a chance I might not get to hold him right away. He had his first bowel movement inside of me. I was told he might need fluid suctioned out. My birth team explained everything to me like this along the entire way because I asked for that.
No suction was needed and I got to hold and nurse my son right away. He even inched up to my breasts (with some help). We had several minutes of skin to skin contact. My doc waited for my cord to stop pulsating and had dad proudly cut it. No one rushed to take my son away for cleaning and weighing. We had time to just be. It was the best!
We didn’t have to ask to have it this way because we had planned for it ahead of time.
Did you create a after birth plan? How did it work out for you?