Preparing a Birth Plan
Families facing a life-limiting diagnosis for their baby can fill out your own birth plan here.
You wait and prepare for weeks or months for the day of your
baby’s birth. So much focus goes into the planning, it is natural to want to
make it special and make the most of the time you have with your baby.
Having a birth plan for you and your baby can help prepare
both your family and your caregivers for the day of your baby’s birth. While
there may be many factors surrounding your birth that are uncertain, you can
still have a plan in place and even plan for several different outcomes.
When preparing a birth plan, it is important to make an
introduction so that those who read it are more aware of your situation. You can
make it brief by simply stating your baby’s diagnosis or you can share more of
your baby’s story. Include whatever you feel comfortable sharing and what you
would like your caregivers to know.
Everything else that is added to your birth plan is based
solely on what your desires are for your birth and your baby. Plans can be
tailored to fit your needs or the potential needs for your baby. So what should
you include in a birth plan?
Please click here to fill out a special birth plan for families facing a life-limiting diagnosis for their baby. Also, we want to mention that stillbirthday offers a variety of birth plans for many different
birth situations. You can choose to use these birth plans by printing them off
and highlighting what you would like, or you can pick and choose what you want
to help create your own. Below are also a few sample birth plans that have been
used by families with a fatal diagnosis.
Some things you may want to address in your birth plan are
(but are not limited to):
You will want to state in your plan whether you plan on
having a vaginal or c-section birth so that your caregivers can be prepared. If
you are having a vaginal birth you may also want to include your desires if a
c-section is warranted and if you are expecting multiples.
Include in your plan your desire for any pain medication and
what kind or if you do not want any pain medication at all. It would also be
wise to make known what induction and augmentation techniques you are
comfortable with in case some are needed.
Many hospitals have a policy that only a certain number of
people are allowed in the delivery room, but hospitals are often accommodating
to parents who are expecting a baby who may not live long because of the
special circumstances of the birth. Find out ahead of time what the policy is
where you plan to birth, and ask if they are willing to allow more people to be
present if that is your desire.
You can request a special sign be placed on your door that
lets staff know you will be experiencing a loss. You can choose to have this
placed during labor or you can wait until your baby has been born and passed
and have it placed on your postpartum room. The sign (perhaps a flower or a
leaf with teardrop) alerts staff to be more sensitive and aware to your needs,
especially those who have only brief contact such as housekeeping or dietary.
Care for your baby
If you are delivering in the hospital, you will likely be
hooked up to a fetal monitor upon your arrival. If this is uncomfortable for
you, you can refuse or if it is not offered to you then you can request it. If
you are having a vaginal birth you have the option of continuous fetal
monitoring, intermittent monitoring, or no monitoring at all. You can choose
between using the external fetal monitor or a hand held Doppler.
After your baby is born you can choose to have the father or
another person cut the cord just like any normal delivery. Depending on what
level of care you have chosen for your baby after birth, he/she may be whisked
away to be stabilized and assessed or can be brought to the mother’s chest or
the father’s arms. It is important to thoroughly discuss your baby’s care with
your doctor ahead of time so that all preparations can be available if needed
at your baby’s birth. This care can range from extensive NICU care to oxygen
and pain medications for comfort.
As long as your baby is not in need of any medical care, you
can keep your baby with you as long as you want, even if he/she has passed away.
You are not required to give up your baby after a certain period of time and
can keep your baby with you your entire hospital stay. It is also ok to have
the nurses take your baby if you need a break. You are free to have your baby
back at any time.
A special time for parents is giving their baby a bath.
Often a nurse will offer to give your baby a bath, but do not feel obligated to
say yes if it is something you want to do and have stated so in your birth plan.
Your nurse will not be offended. If you are unsure, it’s ok to ask your nurse
for help. Stillborn babies do require more gentle care due to the fragile state
of their skin. After bathing your baby, you can also dress him/her. You can use
an outfit from the hospital or a special outfit you picked out just for your
baby. You may even decide to put several outfits on your baby. Again, if you
need help feel free to ask your nurse, especially if your baby has passed. You
can request warm blankets or even keep your baby underneath a warmer when not
being held to help keep your baby warm.
Any specific care you want for your baby or may possibly
want should be mentioned in your birth plan.
It can be hard to imagine what you might want as keepsakes
of your baby when you don’t know all that you are allowed to do. Essentially,
there are no limits to what you can do. Often parents want to keep anything
their baby has touched. Many caregivers are very helpful and accommodating to
what a family wants. Below are some ideas of keepsakes you may consider
- bassinet card
- photographs taken by the hospital
- hospital ID bracelet
- cord clamp
- measuring tape
- bath items used for your baby
- diaper similar to what your baby wore
- hand and foot prints
- hand and foot impressions
- 3D molds of hands and feet
- lock of hair
- clothing worn
- heart rate/contraction strips from any
- crafts such as ornaments or canvases using
Many parents want to have a special ceremony for their baby after their birth.
Ceremonies can include, but are not limited to, baptism, dedication, or a
birthday party. Be sure to include any special ceremonies and/or rituals as a part
of your birth plan so your caregivers can assist you with your needs. You can
arrange ahead of time for a pastor or spiritual leader to be present for your
ceremony if needed or you can use the hospital chaplain.
Make arrangements for photos and/or video to be taken during
labor and delivery. These pictures will be invaluable later as you may not
remember all the little details during both labor and delivery. In addition to
your own photos, you can have a family member or a friend take these pictures
or you can choose to hire a photographer. NILMDTS photographers or our SGM
Bereavement Photographers can provide photographs for free. The hospital unit
is often very accommodating to those capturing such special moments. It is a
good idea to include in your birth plan who will be taking photos and video. A
good thing to remember is you can never
have too many photos or videos.
Postpartum/Plans for Discharge
After your baby is born, you will be transferred to a
postpartum room on the maternity floor. If you requested a sign be placed on
your door, it should follow you or will be placed if not already. Some parents
do not want to remain on the maternity floor and request to be moved to a floor
where they do not hear the cries of other babies and women in labor. Do what
feels comfortable for you.
Your baby will go with you to your postpartum room, unless
you have decided to not keep your baby with you or if your baby is in the NICU.
Spend as much time as you can with your baby during this time and make it as
special as you can. It is ok to touch and hold your baby. If a rocking chair is
available you could use it to gently rock him/her or even sway if one isn’t
available. You can sing or read to your baby. If your baby is with you it is
even ok to nap and sleep with him/her.
The time will come when you will have to leave the hospital
and it will likely be without your baby. Before your baby is born, you should
decide what your wishes are regarding hospital discharge. There are several
options available. You can have the nurse take your baby and give to the
funeral director, you can hand him/her to the funeral director, you can leave
the hospital with your baby and go to the funeral home, or you can leave the
hospital and go home with your baby. These are all valid options and should be
considered and arranged ahead of time, but if you would happen to change your
mind when the time comes, that is ok. Most staff will be accommodating to what
you want and want to make the transition as gentle as possible for you. You can
look more into Funeral Planning to help in deciding what is best for you.
If you would like assistance in creating your birth plan you
can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.