#4 Write a specific birth and postpartum hospital plan, print it out (3 copies each), and put it in your hospital bag, now. 

Welcome to my birth and postpartum guide, item #4. Congrats on the upcoming addition to your family! Please take care of yourself and best of luck with your preparations. This is one piece of a 10-part guide. Feel free to explore the other pieces from the introduction page.

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This felt a bit awkward to me the first time — it sort of feels like you are telling other people how to do their jobs. However, I learned from that experience and was much more specific the second time around. First, many nurses and physicians want to meet your needs and respect your wishes, but genuinely won’t know how to do that unless you are specific. Second, sometimes there are hospital policies that are not always the most family friendly, and if you express your wishes clearly, the nurses can respect those wishes against hospital policy. For example, many hospitals require nurses to check on patients every hour. Do you really want a check at 1AM, 2AM, 3AM and 4AM? Or, if your baby happens to blessedly sleep for more than an hour, do you want a chance to get some shut-eye too? 

The care teams for your delivery and your postpartum stay will be different, so I recommend having different plans for the two events. Give both plans to your provider as soon as you make them (you can always change it and update it as your pregnancy progresses). When you get to the hospital, give a copy of your birth plan to the first nurse you meet and give one to the anesthesiologist or another provider in your room. Give a copy of your postpartum plan to the nurse that takes you to your postpartum room.

Keep your plan short and to-the-point and remember that busy people will be reading it.

Things to include:

  • A tiny bit about you, your medical history, your concerns and goals for your birth
  • The specifics of your plan, including what you want to do about the vitamin K shot, Hepatitis B shot, and antibacterial eye ointment. I consented to all of this with both kids and think these things generally make sense. But however you feel, be sure you have thought through them before you are in active labor.
  • A request for warm liquids as soon as possible. Postpartum constipation is real. And for a surprising number of women, it becomes almost as big a deal as the initial birth. You want to avoid it. Be well hydrated going in. Continue to hydrate well. Warm liquids and chewing gum both help “wake up” your intestines and get things moving. Eat foods that promote regularity too. And take the stool softeners when they are offered.
  • Any questions that you have
  • Your pre-discharge goals

You can view my c-section birth plan as an example. Most of this would make sense in other births as well, the pieces most-specific to a c-section have been italicized. 

You can also take a look at my postpartum recovery example plan.

 

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