flickr / George Ruiz flickr / George Ruiz
Get on the A-Team

Building A Birth Plan: A Guy’s Guide To Staying (Mostly) Out Of The Way

John “Hannibal” Smith always loved it when a plan came together. True, he was leader of a crack commando unit sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit, and then promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground to work as a soldier of fortune fighting injustice with a perpetually cranky Mr. T. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use Hannibal’s plan fetish to make sure that when delivery day comes, you feel less like a pitiful foo and more like you’re Peppard.

All it takes? A birth plan.

Fatherly-Birth-Plan-Body-2 Bradley Gordon

flickr / Bradley Gordon

What’s A Birth Plan?
In the modern era of obstetrics, there are tons of options regarding how a baby is born and what happens to it afterwards (as in: who bathes it. Not, like, which college they will eventually go to). Yes, you and your partner can just leave matters in the hands of the hospital, birth center or midwife. Or, you can both take a more active role in the birth of the kid and make specific requests as to how it should all go down (i.e. your baby will only be born to the Lion King soundtrack. Preferably when it’s all, Naaaaaaaaaaahnts ingonyamaaaaaaa bagithi Babaaaaa).

A birth plan, then, is a simple one page document that lays out what you and, more importantly, your partner desire from the birth process (you know, besides a healthy baby when it’s over). The plan covers a whole slate of things, from who is allowed in the room, to what, if any, pain meds will be accepted, to who will do what with the baby once they enter the carefully crafted atmosphere you’ve created with all the low light, candles, and soft music … Weirdly, the same atmosphere in which the baby was made.

flickr / Matthew Sheales

flickr / Matthew Sheales

How To Build A Birth Plan
As the father of the baby … Well, your wishes mean crapola for a lot of this stuff. And frankly, unless she asks, you shouldn’t offer any opinions on episiotomies, doulas (but feel free to send her this), drugs, the position she wants to give birth in, or whether she wants to get a video of the whole thing that you can use to blackmail your future teenager.

There are, however, some portions of the birth plan that are all about you, friend. For instance, if you want to catch your kid (as they, uh, exit), you’ll want that in the plan. If you want to cut the umbilical cord, put that in there too. You can even request to weigh and measure your kid, and give them their first bath while your partner recovers. Additionally, you can stipulate whether or not you’re going to take point and accompany the baby if they need to roll out for any tests.

Here are the basic steps for making a birth plan with your partner:

  1. Check out an online birth plan checklist to get your bearings as to what options you have
  2. Join your partner in a discussion of the options. Offer support, not demands or opinions
  3. Clearly lay out your wishes about how involved you’d like to be in delivery
  4. Build your plan and go over it with your doctor to make sure it’s both safe and doable
  5. Print out at least 4 copies: One for the doctor, one that stays with your partner, one for the birthing center and one for your pocket

Fulfillment of your birth plan, no matter how artful or amazing it is, depends on the best possible birth scenario. Most professionals will stick to your plan. However, birth can get complicated very quickly, so be flexible. If the folks delivering your baby need to go off-plan for health and safety reasons, let them.

Besides, you can always do the Lion King thing later. You know, when you’ve found a suitable cliff and a sentient mandrill to hold your kid to the rising sun. Surely, Hannibal would approve.