The Birth Plan – Breastfeeding and Beyond

Most of my readers, I assume, are already breastfeeding mothers.  I would love your help and advice on this post’s topic!

Did you write a birth plan? I plan on writing one.  I am having a hospital birth because the waiting lists for midwives is long and lonely in Montreal (to be fair, we just moved here and I didn’t get on the list until I was already eight weeks pregnant).  So far, I have had one visit with my new doctor and felt very comfortable with her.  The hospital has a great breastfeeding policy, in accordance with the World Health Organization.  They also implement the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, although I don’t think they are accredited by Unicef.  I admit that in my first visit the actual birth (and therefore my ideas of what I want) didn’t come up.  I didn’t bring them up.  I have my second appointment next week and I am going to make sure I begin the conversation.  I am sixteen weeks pregnant and I don’t think it’s too early. I believe that the more I talk with my doctor, the more she’ll understand my needs.

This will be my first child, but I feel lucky that I already have a few birth experiences.  I was in the delivery room when both my nieces were born.  My sister had midwives for both births.  The insight of watching my sister be fully in control of her experience was eye-opening.  Her midwives were gentle guides, but my sister was the boss.  Up until her pregnancy I was under the belief that you just go to the hospital and do what the professionals tell you!

I don’t want to make out like I think hospitals, doctors and nurses are barbaric goons that want to pull my baby out with forceps because their shift ends in ten minutes, but there is a reality to just allowing routine hospital practices to be performed during births (see the slightly sensational video below).  I’m not ready to have a home birth.  Although low risk home births are just as safe with a midwife as low-risk hospital births, I want to be in a hospital with professionals there to take care of baby and me if something goes wrong.  If something goes wrong…  If all is going normal and naturally as our bodies are designed, than I want to have limited (no!) medical intervention.

So I am going to write a birth plan.  I am going to put as much detail as I can and be sure that my husband and my mother (a trained doula, who will be in the room with me) know what I want and will act as my voice when I am in the throes of labour kindly requesting drugs!

My birth experience will directly impact the first few moments and minutes, hours and weeks with my new baby.  I realize my birth plan will have to be flexible, but more importantly it has to be written.  I want to breastfeed.  I want to have a natural childbirth.   My birth plan is my way of supporting myself!

This is a very intersting short documentary posted on about the topic.  It definitely promotes home births and birthing centres, but the bottom line is that it promotes empowerment.  We have rights and choices when it comes to our bodies and our babies.  Knowledge is power!

Did you write a birth plan?  How did having one (or not having one) affect your birth experience?
I would love to hear stories!
~Sara @ Momzelle

Here are other resources:
Writing a Birth Plan

Top Ten DO’s for writing your birth plan

Know your options


11 thoughts on “The Birth Plan – Breastfeeding and Beyond”

  1. I recommend having a written one, and making sure your doctor is clear on what YOU want. We tried for a home birth with our first, and ended up transferring. I was lucky because the doctor I got asked me about pain meds once, and not again, which is what I wanted. She was awesome. I also opted out of the vitamin K shot and the antibiotic eye ointmnet for my son, but a nurse almost gave it to him. I was watching him like a hawk and asked every person who came near him what they were doing. The other issue I has was when they gave him a bath. They used antibacterial soap. I said no, that I brought my own and tried to argue, but after 58 hours of labor I was so tired, I gave in. It still bothers me. Over all these things were pretty minor, but still important to me. I hope this helps! 🙂

    1. It does help thank you Amanda! There are so many things to think of…The bath had not yet occured to me. I’m glad to be doing my research now. I know that the doctors and nurses have the best intentions, but they are also trained in a different way of thinking than I am. I hope we can all co-operate and communicate when the time comes.

  2. I delivered at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London Ontario. I was given a form to fill out that was specifically about my birth plan requests. It was 3 pages long, lots of multiple choices and then a huge space to fill in anything else.
    My plan was to ‘go with the flow’ in hopes of a water birth if possible, and absolutley NO ONE in my room that didn’t need to be there.
    It was my husband, and my angel nurse who stayed with me, in the dark, quiet room. I had preeclampsia, and the rage of NICU dr’s and residents stayed outside of my room and consulted with my nurse in the hall. Although I wasn’t able to be in the tub, the calmness that I requested was granted and made an ever so stressful labour tolerable.
    I beleive being open to change in your birth plan is important, but sticking up for yourself and your baby is what will get you through!

    1. Thank you Shannon,
      It is so encouraging to hear that your requests were granted, especially when you had a less than straightforward birth. I agree that flexibility is needed in the plan, but most importantly I need to feel confident in my choices.

  3. I had a written birthplan, but forgot to bring it to the hospital! I think it is most important that your support team (husband & doula for me) know what your wishes are. I had an amazing doula who told me that by the time you feel like you NEED the drugs, you are almost done! I kept that in my mind through my entire labour, and delivered a perfect, healthy 9lb 10oz baby girl completely drug free, with no tears or cuts. She nursed immediatley after birth (before being cleaned up, weighed or anything), and I was able to get up and shower within an hour while my husband bonded with his new daughter. It was perfect.

    1. That’s inspiring Jen. I love your doula’s words. I’m going to think of them when it all starts happening! I’m so glad to hear you can reflect on your birth story as “perfect”! I agree that my support team will be crucial to our success. I feel lucky to have my two favourite people in the room with me!

  4. Be careful with US web sites. Here with a public health system, hospitals don’t recommend so many procedures unless medically needed, because they don’t make so much profit out of it!

    I had 2 hospital births in the Mtl area in a baby-friendly hospital and I am happy with how both went and how the medical staff treated us, except some nurses who contradict each other about breastfeeding… but for the birth itself, A1! My advice on the birth plan would be to keep it concise (they won’t read it if it’s a long novel; I’ve seen examples on the web with a full page on the mom’s philosophy of birth and family, but they don’t have time for that and it will probably prevent them from reading the rest of it, incl. the usefull stuff!), clear (see below) and to have several copies at hand (at least 2, maybe 5; if it’s the end of a shift and the new nurse or doctor hasn’t had time to look at your file, you can just hand them another copy, it’s quicker). I organized mine into sections to make it clear:

    1-General info: my name, birthdate, health insurance #, any medical condition, list of meds, etc., your husband’s name and how to reach him if you arrive without him, the baby’s last name, your choice of room (private, semi-, or regular) if available…
    2-This pregnancy info: your doctor, midwife or doula’s name(s), their clinic/office name and phone, last period date AND due date, any pregnancy-related condition, etc.
    2a-When it’s not the 1st pregnancy, it’s good to include short info about the previous pregnancies and births: weeks of pregnancy at birth, baby’s weight and health at birth, date, hospital/birth center, occurence of any condition, lenght of labour, any medical intervention.
    3-Labor and birth: what I wished for if everything went well. Pain mamagement, who I wanted around, atmosphere (music), use of a bathtub, who is to cut the cord, etc.
    4-If things go wrong: we always hope it doesn’t happen, but it’s good to have plans just in case. Your wishes if an emergency c-section is needed (eg to have an epidural instead of general anesthesia if possible, that your husband be given the baby ASAP for skin-to-skin contact if you can’t, etc.).
    5-Baby care: ask in advance. Where I gave birth, it is standard procedure to let the baby have skin-to-skin contact with the mom right after birth, to let the baby latch in his/her 1st hour right in the birth room, and to delay weighting and things like that until later.
    6-Breastfeeding: desire to breastfeed, no complement should be given to the baby without your explicit consentment, a breastfeeding-compatible method (NO bottle) should be used if it was the case, request for an IBLC if you need counseling (as I mentioned, not all nurses give good advice). “My” hospital had an attached IBLC in 2010, an improvement over 2007 when they didn’t!

    Including all that in a clear, easy-to-read layout (lists of points rather than paragraphs), mine was 2.5 pages long.

    I hope this helps! 🙂

      1. Wow Lucie, thank you. That certainly does help! I’m still in research mode for my plan so all of your advice is much appreciated. It’s nice to hear from someone in my area!
        Thanks again!

  5. My first, I had a one page birth plan. No one ever looked at it, but since I knew what I wanted, I went ahead with it – and had a great birth in a hospital. But the immediate postpartum period did not work out all like I planned, and I think I focused too much on the birth and not the baby! My second, I joked I fit it on a 3 x 5 card. It said only four or five things, and almost all of them were related to post-birth care. I ended up with an even better experience – and this time, the postpartum time was much better, and as a result, my milk supply with this baby has been far, far better, and I knew when to get help and whom to call when his latch was poor and I was hurting after the first four days. So, while birth plans are helpful, they are mainly helpful for YOU to maintain your wishes. And don’t forget about what happens after the baby comes out! That’s the most critical part for you and your baby’s breastfeeding, and it’s sooo easy for that to be derailed in the “your baby really needs this” attitude of the nurses.

    1. That is a really good point Ann, thank you. My intention with this plan is to have an experience that will benefit the baby most and that definitely needs to include the post-birth care. I’ll be sure to research that part indeed!

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