There is something almost taboo about emergency birth plans or packing a simple transfer bag among many homebirthers. Oftentimes people cite a fear that if they “plan” for an emergency it is more likely to happen.
I don’t mentally find preparing for an emergency any different than wearing a seat belt when I am in the car. I don’t somehow cause a car crash by being ready with my seat belt, and I sure would be glad I had it on if a car crash happens. Similarly, I find it to be a relief knowing that I have an emergency plan written down with critical instructions and a simple bag packed in case.
I pray I never need to use them, and I haven’t thus far, but I don’t regret taking a little time to be ready in case.
The Emergency Transfer Plan
You will also hear people say that they would only transfer in a serious, life threatening emergency where a plan wouldn’t make a difference anyway, but my preferences for my baby receiving eye ointment, the Hepatitis B vaccine, the Vitamin K shot, and other decisions to made are the same in a dire emergency or not. Permission for my midwife or doula to be in the room with us or baby is also something helpful to have written down. I want these preferences to be able to be quickly communicated to hospital staff.
(As a side note, the vast majority of transfers from a homebirth are not because of life-threatening, ambulance necessitating type situations. Maternal exhaustion is the primary reason, followed by situations like a placenta not releasing after birth, signs of infection in baby etc.)
Most importantly, if there is a serious complication for baby and/or myself, it is critical to us that our priest’s sacramental emergency line is called for him to administer last rites to me, and that anyone in the room know how to baptize our baby.
No one likes to think of something like this happening to them, but this world is a fallen one thanks to original sin, and sometimes there are tragedies and it is so important to me to know that mine and my child’s eternal salvation are not forgotten in the chaos of what would be a most unexpected and unfortunate circumstance.
This plan should be very short and concise – well under a page with quick, simple bullet points to read the critical details quickly.
Below is my template, and you can download it yourself to make your own here –
The Transfer Bag
I pack a very simple transfer bag. This includes:
- A couple extra copies of the birth plan
- A change of clothes for me
- An outfit for baby
- Some diapers
- A cell phone charger
- Holy water in case of emergency baptism (Note that any water may be used in the event of an emergency)
- Basic toiletries like deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, a hair brush and elastic
- Some homeopathic remedies and my After Ease tincture
I hate the idea of Ethan digging around trying to find stuff while stressed out in the midst of a transfer, or even him coming back to the house later to find what I want. Knowing that the absolute bare essentials are together, most importantly that birth plan with instructions for emergency baptism and calling the priest, help me feel so much better.