How to Write a Birth Plan
If you were to go to Google right now and just type “Birth Plan”, you would come up with SO MANY templates, blogs and opinions. I’m not here to tell you what all to put on your birth plan. Instead, what I want to do is give you a few rules of thumb to follow when writing yours that will give you flexibility, your providers a clear map of what you want and to help you achieve the birth experience you desire.
1. Ask yourself “How do I want to feel during my birth?”
We focus so much on the actual method of birth when we write our birth plans, we don’t take into consideration that there may be instances where our plans may need to change. A breech baby, preeclampsia, even a precipitous birth (labor that lasts shorter than 2 hrs) are all plot twists that call for a change in our birth plans. What happens if there’s a medical need to induce? Does that mean that your “ideal birth” can’t happen? No, of course not! You can have an amazing birth even when things don’t go according to plan. The key is to have people around you who support you and who take the time to help you know what your options are. How you are treated during your birth is just as important as how you give birth. Because how you feel is important.
2. Use your words - Not pictures.
I recently I was talking with a friend of mine who is an area nurse and Midwifery student about birth plans. Her advice to me as a doula was this: “Don’t bring in cutesy birth plans that are nothing but pictures. That’s so annoying as a nurse!” Your nurses can read, I promise
Your nurses are going to be the medical professionals who will be with you the most during your labor. Making sure that they know your birth preferences and are on the same page as you, will play a large part in your birth experience. Communication with your medical providers can make your experience amazing! They are there to keep you and your baby safe - talk with them! Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but during your birth, do you *really* need a thousand words? Just a few to communicate yur desires are much more effective!
And speaking of being on the same page, keep your birth plan to one page. Do you know who’s too busy to read a 10 page birth plan? Your OB/midwife and the L&D nurses! Keep it short, to the point, and that brings me to my final point…
3. Be sure that whoever will be with you (partner, family member, doula) knows what your wishes are and are supportive.
Nothing is more stressful that having a plan and then having those who are supposed to be your support people, not respect what you want. Be sure your partner can be supportive regardless of what you need. If they can’t, it would be worth it to look into taking a Childbirth class together. Be sure your mother or mother-in-law won’t be pushing you to get an epidural at the first sign of contractions if your goal is an unmedicated birth. And on the flip side, be sure your doula will be supportive and helpful if you choose that you’ve had enough and want an epidural. Open conversations with each of these people and what their roles are, will be an essential piece of how your birth experience goes.
No two births are exactly alike, so don't try to have the same birth experience as anybody else! Do what you makes you feel safe, comfortable, empowered.
Having people surrounding you who are supportive of what you want and can go along with you on this journey, having a plan that is easily communicated to the medical providers and having a plan that can evolve and roll with the punches can make all the difference in your birth experience!