by Fudia Muhammad
Every expectant mother should prepare a Birth Plan several months prior to her due date. A Birth Plan is a written document given to her midwife or doctor that briefly expresses her unique preferences for her labor and delivery experience. The assumption for any Birth Plan is that the mother expects all of her wishes fulfilled unless there are unforeseen complications or emergencies that prevent her medical team from adhering to her desires. If the mother does not have a Birth Plan, hermidwife or doctor will proceed at their own volition.
It is advisable that every point included on the Birth Plan be thoroughly discussed with the medical team in order to confirm whether or not specific requests can be accommodated. It is particularly important to do this if the delivery will take place in a hospital – hospital policies and procedures may override the Birth Plan (i.e. photographs, video recordings). Anyonethe mother desires to witness her labor and delivery should also be aware of what is stated on the Birth Plan. Whether discussed in advance or not, the Birth Plan should be physically present (digital or hardcopy) and easily accessible for the midwife or doctor when admitted.
Labor and Delivery is very intimate and personal. There are not many hard and fast rules when it comes totrying to create the optimum experience and environment, only suggestions. Some Birth Plans deal strictly with the medical and health concerns for mother and baby; whereas others include everything from music being played during delivery to the lighting of the room. The latter does not need to be included in the Birth Plan – it is always good to verify, but patients are generally free to play music, dim the lights (as long as the attendants can see), and eat or drink. Over the decades, the advantages of a calm and soothing birthing environment and experience has been accepted by both medical professionals and patients. So there should not be any concernover allowing a mother to create this type of atmosphere in a hospital or birthing center.
The following is a sample 10-Point Birth Plan. Certainly, Birth Plans can be longer or shorter and list different preferences; but this plan includes a few critical points that we believe will be beneficial to both mother and baby. An explanation for each point is listed for the purposes of this article only; but it is not necessary to give the explanation in one’s personal plan if the points were discussed in advance with theattending midwife or doctor…
- I want a natural vaginal delivery: Specify your delivery plan. Health permitting, a natural vaginal delivery is recommended, with no artificial means of induction or prematurely breaking the water. Also indicate the preferred delivery position (birthing stool, birthing chair, or water).
- List the family/friends who have permission to be in attendance during labor and delivery: Labor and delivery is very private and leaves the mother at her most vulnerable. It is exclusively the mother’s decision as to who she wants in the delivery room. Outside of her husband, midwife or doctor; she may not want anyone else to witness. Or, she may want her mother or sister to be present. Her desires should be communicated in advance so someone other than the mother can ensure her privacy is respected.
- Eliminate drugs and limit medical intervention – no routine episiotomies, or use of suctions or forceps: Plan for the ideal delivery. The ideal delivery is a vaginal birth with no complications and no medical interventions. Midwives and doctors know what must be done in an emergency, so the mother’s job is to communicate what she doesand does not want done if all is well. We need to return to natural childbirth [natural-childbirth/]. Most women do not need episiotomies. And to increase the chances of not needing one, request perineal support (a warm compress) during delivery. There are also prenatal exercises and massages that can be done to increase elasticity. Working with your midwife, doula or physician to discuss gentle pushing techniques and delivery positions will eliminate the need for episiotomies, suctions and forceps.
- Allow my husband (baby’s father) to receive the baby during delivery: What??? Yes, that is actually a very important role for the father. He should be guided to receive his baby from the birth canal, not the midwife or doctor. This is our way and it is becoming more and more acceptable. There should be no objections as long as notification is given in advance.
- Do not clamp or cut the umbilical cord until it stops pulsating: There are documented benefits for waiting to cut the umbilical cord. The placenta continuously passes blood and nutrients to the baby. This process does not immediately stop at birth. For up to five minutes, the placenta could still be passing blood and nutrients to the baby, which is indicated by the fact that it is still pulsating. Insufficient blood transfer can lead to anemia and other health challenges.
- Allow time and privacy for a prayer after the baby (and placenta) is born: The Holy Qur’an 7:189 reads, “He it is Who created you from a single soul, and of the same did He make his mate, that he might find comfort in her. So when he covers her she bears a light burden, then moves about with it. Then when it grows heavy, they both call upon Allah, their Lord: If Thou givest us a good one, we shall certainly be of the grateful.”After the placenta has been expelled, there should be a few minutes of privacy for the parents to say a prayer thanking Allah (God) for their blessing and asking for His Guidance and Protection over the new life.
- I plan to breastfeed exclusively and bond with my baby: Give the baby God’s formula, breast milk. There is no substitute that comes close[See mothers-milk/]. Be clear that the baby should not be given any formulas, supplements, glucose water, artificial nipples or pacifiers. Bring a breast pump, should the baby need to be separated due to an emergency, so he/she can still be fed mother’s milk.
- My baby should not be removed from my room; all exams should be performed in my presence:If delivering in a hospital,put a big sign on the door – “DO NOT REMOVE BABY FROM ROOM.” Nurses change shifts regularly, so it needs to be clear to all who will have access to the baby that he/she is not to be removed. Short of being premature or being born with a serious complication, there is NO need to remove the baby from mother’s sight. If the baby is healthy, everything that is done in the nursery can be done right there in the room, do not let anyone say otherwise. The mother can even give the baby its first bath if she chooses. The purpose of keeping the baby with the mother is not only for protection, but also to transfer peace and security to the baby. Immediately, the baby knows his/her mother and only wants her.
- No immunizations/vaccinations, Vitamin K shot or eye treatmentshould be given to my baby:Just say NO! Please refer to a previous article, “Vaccine Deception” [vaccine-deception/], for reasons to abstain from these deadly artificial vaccines. The Vitamin K shot is supposed to help blood clotting; but the version of Vitamin K babies are receiving is synthetic. There is an assumption made that all babies are born deficient in Vitamin K without even checking. Any synthetic drug is dangerous particularly for a newborn. Mothers who eat a diet rich in Vitamin K can naturally transfer it to their babies in the womb and while nursing. As for eye drops and eye ointments – this is for mothers with an STD. If the mother does not have an STD, her baby should not arbitrarily be given treatment.
- I prefer to leave the hospital/birthing center as soon as possible:Get out of there! Recovery is faster at home. Birthing centers and midwives seem to understand this more than traditional doctors. Staying in the hospital for two or three days is just not necessary; not to mention, it’s costly. Most birthing centers allow mother and baby to return home 6-8 hours after delivery.
We pray that readers will find this 10-Point Birth Plan useful as a guide in creating one or helping a loved one. Starting several months in advance allows time to make adjustments. Just keep it brief and easy to follow. The birth of a baby is sacred and the experience should reflect its majesty. Planning is a divine attribute of God that we should exercise during pregnancy. Let’s not give away our power and right to have the labor and delivery experience that we absolutely deserve.
(Sister Fudia Muhammad is a member of Muhammad Mosque No. 64 in Austin, Texas. She is married to Student Minister Robert L. Muhammad and they have been blessed with four children. Sister Fudia holds a Master’s degree in Education – she is a writer, an educator and an advocate for God-centered child-rearing.)