Part of being prepared for childbirth and labor is being well organized and ready for all situations. Keeping great records can also be extremely helpful regardless of if you plan to give birth in the hospital, a birthing center, or at home. Writing our your expectations for birth, labor, and what you would like for your child after delivery can help make things go smoother as well. Learn how to put together a birth binder and how to include and write a birth plan that suits your family.
Why should I keep a birth Binder?
A birth Binder is going to include everything you need to know from nutrition to the stages of labor and more. Keeping one will help you have a quick reference guide of everything that you need to know and all of the records you need to keep while pregnant and when going into labor.
Furthermore, it’s great to have on hand for future pregnancies to see what went well and what didn’t if you keep a notes section in the back. The binder I kept from my daughter has helped me in this pregnancy because I had all the resources I needed from the beginning, could compare the pregnancies, and know what to try to change this time around.
What Do I need in my birth Binder?
A few things that I like to include in my birth binder are as follows
Having nutrition worksheets for each week can help ensure that you are staying accountable to a healthy diet that is nourishing yourself and your baby. Furthermore, it helps you see how much protein you are getting, how much water you are drinking, and it keeps you on top of your vitamins and supplements.
Printouts and suggestions for exercise
Even just having a few quick and easy prenatal exercises on hand is a good idea. When you are having pregnancy discomforts, it’s a great reference guide to know what to do for each discomfort.
Notes from Doctors’ and Midwife appointments and Copies of medical information
With my last, I changed doctors at 38 weeks. While my records were transferred, not everything got put into the computer. So instead of having to get my blood drawn over again to check my rh factor, I had that information readily available for them. Also, knowing weight gain statistics, what was said at each appointment, etc. can be helpful for future pregnancies.
Stages of Labor Guides and Labor Positions worksheets
Again, having cheat sheets a reference guides will help in those moments of panic or complete brain fog. Even if you know it inside and out, reference guides are so invaluable in the heat of the moment.
A Birth Plan (or plans)
While you will want to give one to your nurses, midwives, and/or doctors to have in their hands, it is great to have one in your binder with you in case something gets lost or for a family member to be able to reference. And for my last birth, knowing that I was going to attempt a frank breech labor, I had two birth plans in case I needed an emergency cesarean.
Breastfeeding information and other after birth information
Anything you feel you might need after baby is born is also great to have in your binder. This might include breastfeeding tips and handouts from a class you attended, something you found online, or even some notes from sitting down with a lactation consultant.
Why write a birth plan?
A birth plan is ultimately your expectations in labor and childbirth. While no one can ever guarantee that 100% of your wishes will be met and followed, it is a rough course of action that you would prefer.
The biggest benefit of having a birth plan is that if you have strong opinions on a certain subject that you make sure those concerns are at least addressed. It’s a great idea to sit down with your significant other and write this together. In writing it, consider how you want your labor to look like and what things you see as necessary and unnecessary. Also, make sure you do this as soon as you can in your third trimester so that you can discuss it with your provider. If you provider does not agree with your wishes, it may be time to find someone more suitable (I changed doctors at 38 weeks because he was unwilling to do anything but a c-section for my breech baby).
What should I include in my birth plan?
At the top of your birth plan, clearly indicate that it is a birth plan and give at least your last name. Under that I personally included a section that included the names and roles of everyone invloved. (“Mom’s name, dad’s name, (baby’s name), and doctor”). This would be a place to include a doula, a photographer, etc.. This just left little room for confusion, especially in the hospital setting.
After that, I had a small intro sentence or two thanking each person attending the birth for being a part of the experience and we let them know that we had educated ourselves in what we wanted and they were as follows:
I separated my birth plan into three main sections:
For Mom/During Labor
–Natural Birth, epidural, or what? What kind of labor are you looking for in particular?
-What kind of environment do you want? (We said we wanted a calm, relaxing, and peaceful environment)
-Is there a certain position you might want to avoid or some sort of extra support like a squat bar available? (We mentioned we would like to avoid the supine position/laying on the back).
-Consider asking for freedom of movement and time to labor.
-We asked for flexibility and positive encouragement especially since we were attempting a breech birth.
-Would you like to avoid an episiotomy? What about if you were tearing forwards and not backwards?
-Do you want to avoid medications, IVs, and hep locks altogether or use one or all of them?
-How do you feel about antibiotics? Are you positive for Strep B?
-What other special instructions or desires do you have?
For Dad (and/or Doulas)
-Has dad prepared and gone through childbirth classes? Let them know if he has and if he is to be an active role and also his role in making decisions.
-We asked for doctors and nurses to trust his instinct and to address concerns with him (so that I did not have to worry about decision making)
-Who is responsible for what?
-Do you want Dad to catch the baby at birth? Is He to Cut the cord?
For Baby/Upon Birth
–Are you going to delay cord clamping?
-Will the baby ever leave your side? (Even for a few seconds?)
-We asked baby to be handed to mom immediately before cord clamping, nasal clearing, etc. for skin to skin contact.
-Are you going to vaccinate?
-Will vitamin K be administered?
-Will the baby have antibiotics put in the eyes?
-Are you going to avoid pacifiers (we asked for this to be avoided so that chances of successful breastfeeding increased).
-We asked for PKU testing and other tests to be done while baby was in my arms and that it be after a few hours to allow for bonding.
-Is baby going to be bathed?
My Alternate Birth Plan in Case of Cesarean was also separated into 3 sections
We started out with the same basic introduction, but had different subheadings.
–Because of our desire to breastfeed, we asked that all medications were suitable for breastfeeding, including using Zofran only for anti-nausea since it was also non-drowsy.
-Do you want to rest after birth or be a part of your baby’s first moments? I wanted to be coherent so I asked to not get sedatives or medication that could potentially make me drowsy.
-Do you want a warm blanket?
-How is Dad involved?
-Do you want pictures?
–What medications or treatments do you want or not want? (See above birth plan).
-Do you want skin-to-skin contact after delivery?
-When do you want the baby bathed?
-Does baby leave your side? Or can baby go with dad? Or can baby go with nurse alone?
-Then we also listed everything else in the other birth plan.
–Do you want to be alone after checked and deemed stable?
-Is family allowed to come in immediately or do they need to wait?
-Does baby stay with you at all times?
-When do you want to be up and walking (with support and assistance)?
-Do you want to eat as soon as possible?
-When do you want to try to breastfeed? Immediately? After resting?
-When would you like the IV to be removed?
At the end of both birth plans, I thanked those involved again for trying to help us achieve our goals. In all, we tried to make it a positive birth plan as to not say “we know all”, but that we are prepared and we would appreciate our wishes to be followed as closely as possible.
Find more information about Preparing for baby by visiting the 28 Day Checklist to Prepare for a Newborn.
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!