Writing a Birth Plan
When I suggest writing a birth plan to my clients, I get all kinds of looks! Sometimes confusion or excitement because they’ve already been planning what they want! A birth plan is a document that informs your caregivers (nurses/birth partner/doctor) your preferences for labor, birth, and postpartum care.
The first thing that I stress is that birth plans are fluid and flexibility is going to be key in giving birth. We can add any detail that you want to your birth plan but just because we write it down doesn’t mean that we will be able to follow it like a game plan. There has to be room for movement and adjustments as needed.
Birth plans are, in my opinion, another way to mentally prepare for the kind of birth that you are hoping for. It’s similar to using words of affirmation. When you state, “I want…”, you are telling yourself your desires and making those connections in your brain that help you believe that you CAN do it.
So you’ve searched online and found about a hundred different formats with cute fonts or paper and you don’t know which one to pick! My advice– Keep it simple. Whomever will be reading it will want something that is easy to read and concise.
Let me repeat that. Keep it concise. You don’t need to defend your decisions in your plan or why you may want to do something but maybe don’t want the Vitamin K shot. If your caretakers need more information, they will ask you. In my experience, they want to know what you prefer and will be as respectful as possible.
Know the important details. Reading examples online is a great way to figure out what kinds of information you should include in your birth plan!
Some important points to hit on: induction preference (or to not be induced at all), maybe you don’t want to be asked if you want painkillers and specify that you will ask for what you need, avoiding unnecessary cervical checks, etc. Also, including what you would like to happen immediately after giving birth! This includes if you would like immediate skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping, what you would like to do with the placenta, etc. You can include who you want in the room and when you would like to allow visitors.
Make informed decisions. Do your research!
Go over your plan with your caregiver at a routine appointment. This will ensure that everybody is on the same page! When you are having contractions, questions about what you want will definitely be annoying, so it is best to do the work beforehand!
Again, labor can go many ways and you have to be prepared for anything to happen. However, knowing what your options are is extremely empowering.
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