Making a plan is something most of us do when approaching any serious life event. A plan, while it may not guarantee anything, helps us figure out exactly what we want, make choices accordingly, and clearly communicate those desires with those that are important to the plan. Below, you will find our top tips for helping create the perfect birth plan for your upcoming birth!
Making a birth plan is an important part of preparing for your birth.
Planning doesn’t guarantee an outcome, but taking the time to consider our options gives us the power and foreknowledge to do the things that can stack the deck in our favor and help us achieve the birth we desire.
Some important things to consider when making a birth plan-
When making a birth plan you need to consider all your options. It is incredibly helpful to have a comprehensive childbirth class to help you know what those choices are. There is simply so much information available on the internet and in books that it is difficult to sift through it and know what is applicable in your situation.
It is very helpful to know the answers to these two questions:
1. What things are standard procedure at your birth place?
If your hospital requires that everyone who walks into L&D receive an IV and this intervention is not negotiable, then demanding that you not have one on your birth plan won’t actually help you. If avoiding things that your birth place absolutely insists upon is important to you, it may be time to find a different birth place.
2. What things are never done at your birth place?
If you look up birth plan options online you will find pages and pages of lists. Some of these possible things to ask for or avoid may apply to you, but many won’t.
If your hospital, like many in the country, is no longer performing routine enemas, then there is no need to include the line, “I don’t want an enema,” on your birth plan. Save the space for things that matter and don’t waste it on outdated practices that they definitely don’t use. (But find out what practices they do, because some places do practice outdated, non-evidence based obstetric care!)
People who you can talk to about your birth plan include-
When considering what you want to put on your birth plan, talk to your partner! Figure out together what is most important to you.
Talk to your childbirth educator to get a feel for and some guidance about what you may want to include or talk to your care provider about. She can lend advice and wisdom in this area, as well as give tips on how to format your birth plan so it is readable, coherent, and applicable. There is a wrong way to write a birth plan and she can help you avoid that! (Our instructors spend a large amount of time walking you through this. It is so helpful!)
Make sure you talk to your doula about your birth plan. This helps her know how to best support you for your birth and have an awareness of your plans. While she won’t speak for your during your birth, it will really help her support you if she knows what is most important to you and what you want to avoid. Then she can act accordingly. Doulas, because they spend a lot of time with different providers in different hospitals often have inside information about what is standard practice in various birth places in your area. This is valuable information for you.
And of course, talk to your care provider! Work out the details with them, find out what is negotiable and what isn’t, and help them know what your wishes are. A good care provider truly wants an outcome that you are happy with and knowing our wishes helps them help you achieve that.
Also, speaking realistically about your birth plan helps you make sure that you are a good fit for one another.
Think outside the box-
While we think of a birth plan as being all about monitoring and offering pain medication, it isn’t just about interventions. Think about if you want your birth recorded by a videographer, if you want your children present at the birth there with you, if you want to play music, have your essential oils there, etc.
A birth plan isn’t just about episiotomies, it’s about environment, who cuts the cord, and what happens to the baby after the birth. Think of your whole birth vision and act accordingly.
The true purpose of a birth plan is-
The true purpose of a birth plan is to facilitate communication between partners, care providers, and within your own self. While some criticize the “plan” part of the birth plan, doing so misses the true point of this powerful tool. Learning to effectively communicate and advocate for your desires is one of the most important but often most difficult parts of preparing for a baby. A birth plan facilitates this communication and so is invaluable, when used properly.
Honest communication, while not always easy, is always important. Here lies the power and importance of a birth plan. Don’t leave it out!