Let’s be honest. You can’t plan birth. It can be unpredictable. So what is the point of a birth plan? It will just lead to disappointment when it doesn’t go as planned, right?
I used to be this person. I didn’t make a birth plan. I thought there was no point. And I encounter this same mindset often. But it is largely based in misunderstanding. A birth plan is NOT an attempt to control birth. A birth plan is NOT a binding contract. A birth plan is a living document of your preferences for your birth experience. This means that it can be changed.
So let’s dive in and uncover the real beauty of a birth plan and why it can be so important.
Discover your options. In creating a birth plan you will have to do some research about your options. Almost every time I give a birth plan template to a client I hear “Oh, I didn’t even know that was an option” about something. This opens up a whole new realm of possibilities that you may have been unaware of previously!
Be informed. By becoming informed about your options, if something goes in a different direction than you hoped for during your experience, you will have an easier time making a decision about what to do next or understanding what may take place. As I always say- knowledge is power. Be empowered!
Communication. Having a written birth plan eases communication with all involved in your birth experience. Bring a copy to your provider to discuss and place in your chart. Keep a few copies in your hospital bag to take to the hospital. Most often, you won’t know your nurse until the day you arrive at the labor and delivery unit. Leave a copy on the board and/or at the nurses station in your room. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page, even through shift changes.
So think of it this way: A birth plan is like a road map. You have a planned route, but you may run into closures and diversions/detours along the way. Fortunately, your road map (or more likely, GPS) provides other options to get you to your destination. Without that map, it would be a bit more of a complicated journey!
And to clear up another misconception- a birth plan is not just for someone wanting an unmedicated vaginal birth! There are so many factors involved in birth, medicated or unmedicated, vaginal or cesarean, that a birth plan is useful in all cases!
Here are a few tips for writing a birth plan:
Keep it short and sweet. One page should be enough to get down your desires and top priorities. Be concise- use bullet points and avoid lengthy paragraphs. Highlight or Bold top priorities. Readability is important for your birth team.
Don’t forget to include your preferences for the hours immediately after birth. Would you like an undisturbed first hour? Standard newborn care procedure preferences, Cord clamping, Etc…
You may want to consider creating a “just in case” cesarean birth plan.
You can use one of the many templates available online or create your own document. Are you still feeling a bit lost or overwhelmed? You can hire a professional for a planning session!