As you draw closer to your due date, your caregivers might have asked if you have written or created a birth plan. A birth plan is a communication tool that is used by everyone involved with your labor and the birth of your baby. Your birth plan effectively puts everyone on the “same page” when it comes to you and your partner’s preferences regarding the different options available to you during the course of your labor, birth and even after-care of your baby.
Why write a birth plan? First, it allows you and your partner to get in sync with one another before your baby’s birth. Creating a plan will give you a chance to bring up any fears, strong desires, etc. that you may have not talked about up to this point. It also allows you to create a “team approach” with your caregivers. More than likely, different people involved with your labor, delivery and aftercare. As new caregivers join in to assist you, they will be able to know your preferences no matter what stage you are in.
Of course, a birth plan is not a set of orders to be followed, but it does give you reminders as to what is important in an ideal birth situation. To get started, make sure you and your partner have some time to talk about your ideal birth story. Read up on the subject and/or take a childbirth class with your partner so that you are aware of all options available to you. Once you have a rough-draft, schedule time to review your birth plan with your care provider. They can suggest any changes based on hospital guidelines, etc. When your final birth plan is complete, make sure that you have copies for yourself, additional support persons/doula and your caregiver. It is also helpful to pack an additional one in your hospital bag for the caregivers that will be attending to you.
A birth plan should include the following:
Your birth plan will be best received when it is kept short and sweet. Too much wording is hard for caregivers to read and discern what is truly important to you. Short and direct sentences or “bullet points” allow all of those involved to quickly reference your preferences at each step. Keep in mind that a birth plan are your wishes under normal birthing circumstances. Labor is unpredictable and the birth plan should not be a list of orders that restrict the caregiver’s ability to keep you and baby healthy.
Not sure where to get started? There are some great birth plan templates available on the web to choose from. Because they can get lengthy covering so much material, it is a good idea to print one out, make the selections you desire and then type those preferences to create your own birth plan.