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What Is A Birth Plan And How Should You Do It?

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), approximately more than 27,000 boys and girls are born every day in Latin America and the Caribbean. The birth plan is a valuable document for childbirth

Pregnant woman filling out some papers

Photo: Freepik

LatinAmerican Post | Julieta Gutiérrez

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Leer en español: ¿Qué es un plan de parto y cómo realizarlo?

During the gestation period, mothers prepare for the arrival of their baby. Several doubts and needs arise around the birth of an infant. From preparing the things to take to the hospital, to preparing the place where the boy or girl will sleep.

According to a report called "Health Overview: Latin America and the Caribbean 2020", presented jointly by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank; In countries such as Cuba, El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, more than 96% of deliveries take place in a health facility. However, it is not very common for mothers to make a birth plan. For this reason, here at LatinAmerican Post, we tell you what a birth plan is and how to do it.

A birth plan is a fundamental document for future mothers

According to the Quality Agency of the National Health System of Spain, a birth plan is a document that allows pregnant women to express in writing their needs, desires, preferences, and expectations regarding childbirth and the birth of their daughter or son.

Creating a birth plan helps to optimize the understanding and participation of the mother, her companion, and the medical staff in the process. And although it is possible to carry out the document at any time during the pregnancy, the Quality Agency of the National Health System of Spain recommends doing it during the weeks of 28 to 32, since this way there will be enough time to resolve any doubts that arise during the process.

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How to write a birth plan?

Not all medical centers have the same protocol to care for mothers who arrive to start labor. For this reason, writing a birth plan provides the opportunity to write down the way in which mothers want to be cared for according to their needs and preferences.

First of all, the ideal is to share the document with the medical staff before delivery. And although there are different formats of birth plans, there is data that is essential when preparing a paper of this type.

Personal data: This is the first information that cannot be missing. With it, doctors identify to whom the birth plan belongs.

Companion: It is essential that you inform the doctors who will be your companion during the hospital stay. 

Interventions: During the birth process, you can accept or discard some practices according to your need. For example, you can request that your pubic hair be shaved or not.

Pain control: Although pain during labor is unavoidable, it is possible to control it. So in this item, you can state how you prefer doctors to treat pain, such as receiving epidural anesthesia.

Posture: Thanks to the birth plan you can write down the most comfortable way in which you prefer to dilate and give birth.

Breastfeeding: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breast milk helps protect the baby from multiple infections during the first hours of life. For this reason, it is essential that you tell the specialist if you need help when feeding your baby or if you prefer to be fed with a bottle.

Care of the infant and the mother after childbirth: This point is vital within a birth plan, since here you can tell the medical staff if you and your baby need special treatment; if you want to be separated from the child as soon as it is born or if, instead, you prefer to have it as long as possible with you.

In addition, it is not only important to have a birth plan prepared, but it is also very important to know the rights that protect you and your baby during the process of giving birth.

Rights of babies and pregnant women during childbirth

One of the most recent examples of rights for pregnant women is "Law 2244 of 2022: dignified and humanized childbirth in Colombia." This law issued by the Ministry of Health seeks to recognize and guarantee the right to respect the freedom and conscience of mothers during pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum, gestational and perinatal mourning. In addition, to recognize the rights of newborns. Of which the following stand out:

Rights for pregnant mothers:

  • Present their birth plan to optimize communication between the medical staff, the companion, and the patient.
  • To be treated without discrimination, protecting their right to privacy and confidentiality.
  • Being admitted and cared for in the health system without administrative obstacles.
  • Be accompanied by at least one trusted person chosen by the mother.
  • Be informed about the probability of having a vaginal delivery after a cesarean section if the pregnant woman prefers it that way.
  • Be informed and make decisions about their body.
  • Have the accompaniment of specialized interdisciplinary health staff with training in grief if necessary.

Rights of newborns:

  • Receive necessary care and treatment.
  • Receive immediate breastfeeding and have skin-to-skin contact with their mother.
  • As long as the mother does not require special care, the baby has the right not to be separated from his mother during his stay at the health center.

Depending on the country in which you are, it is convenient that you look for the legislation and regulations that protect you. This is a way to prevent obstetric violence and have a positive delivery, which allows the greatest possible well-being for you, your family and your baby.