A Birth Mother’s Guide to Creating a Hospital Birth Plan for Adoption in Missouri
By Zoë Bowlus
You’ve chosen adoption. Check. You’ve made an adoption plan. Check. You’ve matched with an adoptive family. Check. Stop for a second and congratulate yourself! You’ve already accomplished so much on your adoption journey. As your due date approaches, now it’s time to prepare for the birth of your baby by creating a hospital birth plan — a document that outlines your labor and delivery preferences for giving a child up for adoption in Missouri.
As the birth mother, you get to make decisions about what your hospital experience will be like. The sooner you start planning, the better. Figuring out the logistics will help your labor and delivery team, the adoptive family, your adoption caseworker and your support network make sure your hospital experience goes as smoothly as possible before, during, and after birth.
At Adoption Choices of Missouri, your adoption caseworker will provide you with information, guidance, and emotional support as you develop a hospital plan. Remember to consult your doctor about any labor and delivery questions you have.
I’m considering adoption for my baby. What preferences should I consider to prepare?
Getting to the Hospital
- Transportation: Who will take you to the hospital?
- Hospital bag: Gather the items you’ll want to bring with you. Have your hospital bag packed and ready to go.
Delivery Room Preferences
- Visitors: Do you want anyone with you in the delivery room? A family member? The adoptive parent(s)? A friend? Your partner or spouse? Your doula? Your adoption caseworker? It’s entirely up to you, but it’s good to plan with your support network in advance.
Be sure to check your hospital’s visitor guidelines. There may be restrictions due to COVID-19. You’ll likely be allowed one support person.
- Photos and Videos: Do you want the birth documented? Do you want photos or videos of you and/or your newborn? Do you want to take pictures of your baby? Would you like to video chat with friends or family during your hospital stay? Especially since the number of visitors allowed in the delivery room may be limited, think about creative ways to commemorate the birth and to share updates with friends and family digitally. Be sure to talk to your caseworker and check with your healthcare provider because different hospitals have different policies for taking photos and videos.
- Ambiance: Do you want your own music playing? Do you want the lights dim?
- Clothing: Do you want to wear your own clothes? If you wear contacts and are giving birth vaginally, decide whether you’d like to wear contacts or glasses.
You can indicate whether you’d like to try a birthing ball, squatting bar or labor pool/tub, all of which can help you during labor. You can also choose which position(s) you’d like to be in during the pushing stage. Do you want to receive coaching when it’s time to push?
- Hydration: Do you want to drink clear liquids or do you want to receive fluids through an IV?
- Pain Management: Indicate which methods you’d like to use to manage any pain (e.g. breathing techniques, a bath or shower). Do you want hospital staff to ask you if you want pain medication? Or do you want to request it yourself?
Consult with your doctor to discuss vaginal births versus C-sections.
- Vaginal Birth: Do you want to watch the birth using a mirror? Do you want your support person to help catch your baby?
- C-Section: Who do you want to hold the baby after the operation?
You and Your Baby
- After Birth: Do you want to see your baby after delivery? If so, you’ll want to consider how much time you want to spend with your newborn before the adoptive family brings your baby home. Do you want to spend time with your baby alone?
Here are some other questions to consider:
- Do you want to be the first person to hold your baby? If so, do you want to hold your baby right away, or do you want the newborn procedures to be taken care of first? Do you want the newborn procedures to be performed in your presence?
- Who do you want to cut the umbilical cord?
- If your baby is a boy, do you want him circumcised?
Naming Your Baby
Do you want to name your baby? If so, the name you choose at the hospital will be on your baby’s Original Birth Certificate (if the adoptive family chooses a different name, the birth certificate will be updated on the Amended Birth Certificate when the adoption is finalized). If you’ve chosen an open adoption, you and the adoptive family can discuss the naming process. Maybe you’ll decide on a name together. For instance, you can have the first name and they can have the middle, or vice versa. Maybe you’re more comfortable if they choose a name. Maybe they’re happy with whatever name you choose.
What are your preferences for leaving the hospital? When you are discharged, do you want the adoptive parent(s) to accompany you? Do you want to leave the hospital on your own or with your chosen support person?
Check with your hospital to see what their discharge policies are. According to Missouri law, you can officially consent to adoption up to 48 hours after birth.
- Mementos and Documents: Do you want to bring home any items from the hospital (e.g., baby blanket, baby footprints, baby bracelet, umbilical cord camp, copy of birth certificate)? Would you like the adoptive family to bring home any of these items with them?
- Transportation: Who will bring you home after you are discharged?
A Flexible Plan Customized for You
If you change your mind about any of the preferences you noted on your hospital plan, that’s totally okay. You can even make changes on the day you go into labor. Just talk with your adoption caseworker and let them know what you’d like to be different. Everyone wants you to feel comfortable during your hospital stay, so don’t be afraid to speak up about your preferences.
Do remember, though, that even though you’ve carefully planned your hospital experience, babies are unpredictable. The hospital staff may have to make some changes to your hospital plan to keep you and your baby healthy.
Creating an Adoption Hospital Plan: Getting Prepared for Giving Birth
Giving birth is a major moment in your life. We want to make sure you have an adoption hospital plan in place so that you know what to expect and are ready to have your baby. It’s important to start thinking about your hospital plan now so that your adoption caseworker, your hospital staff, and the adoptive family are up to date on your labor and delivery preferences.
We know there are a lot of decisions to make as you plan for your baby’s birth. At Adoption Choices of Missouri, we are here to help you figure out exactly what you want and what’s best (and safest and healthiest) for you and your baby. Remember to talk with your caseworker and your doctor about any questions and concerns you may have about labor and delivery.
Armed with a detailed adoption hospital plan, you are one step further on your courageous adoption journey.