So, I’ve heard a lot of controversy on birth plans in the birth world lately. So, I thought I would contribute my 2 cents as well! A birth plan is similar to a 5 year plan – You know, that exercise that teachers make you do, so that you start thinking about your future . . . Yes, that! How so? Well, with a 5 year plan, you list your goals, research, and then plan the steps needed to achieve those goals. This is also true for a birth plan.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?
First – What are your goals? This will guide you. Do you want an unmedicated vaginal birth? Repeat cesarean? Medicated vaginal birth?
HOW TO ACCOMPLISHING YOUR GOALS
Each couple’s goals will be different, and so will the steps to achieving them. For instance, if your goal is a vaginal birth, you may want minimal interventions, such as vaginal exams, inductions (unless medically necessary), breaking water, or even no epidural (or waiting until at least 6 cm until getting one). If you are afraid of tearing, you may decline an epidural, refuse an episiotomy, and specify a pushing position. If you are worried about infection, you may decide to do a home birth and refuse vaginal exams. These will be the bullet points that you include on your birth plan.
There are so many things to consider, and each woman’s birth plan will vary.
Also, keep it simple and try to limit it to a page. Paragraphs are hard to read quickly. Also, if it is more than a page, it will be hard for everyone to remember everything on it.
The exercise of creating your birth plan should ideally be done with your partner, especially if they are going to be at your birth. This is a great bonding experience. You may discover that you both have different ideas of birth. Talk and listen to each other now, when you are not distracted by contractions!
So, you and your partner have envisioned and planned for your ideal birth. Now what? Communicate it! This is the most important part. Talk to your care provider. If their birth philosophy is not in alignment with yours, you may need to find a new care provider. Or, maybe your care provider may have some other suggestions. Labor is not the ideal time to have this discussion.
So, you and your care provider agree on your birth plan. Great! Now, share it with everyone else that will be a part of your birth – Doula, nurses, family, friends . . . If any of these people are not supportive of your plan, you may need to rethink their involvement. Negative energy can really mess up the birthing atmosphere.
A BIRTH PLAN IS NOT . . .
A birth plan is NOT a contract; it is more of a guide. You are not guaranteed this birth plan. Most medical professionals will try to respect the plan as much as possible.
However, it is important to know what your birth place’s policies are. If your birth place does not allow things on your plan, they likely will not be honored. Tour your birth place, and find these things out ahead of time. If they cannot meet your needs, is there another place that will?
Also, like life, things may change. Every woman’s birth follows its own path, and things may happen that you didn’t plan for.
FACTORS THAT CAN AFFECT YOUR BIRTH EXPERIENCE
Education is the most valuable tool you have when planning for a birth, and also when dealing with whatever may come your way. A comprehensive childbirth class is invaluable. Birth isn’t going the way you planned? That’s okay. With a comprehensive education, you will know what questions to ask, and be able to make an educated decision. YOU are in charge of YOUR birth!
Find a care provider that is respectful and supportive of your birthing goals. One care provider that was amazing for your best friend, may not be amazing for you. Every woman has different desires and goals, so not every care provider will be a good match for YOU. It is okay to switch care providers to find one that meets YOUR needs!
Each birth place will have different policies. Find one that fits your needs.
An independent doula can help with and support any birth plan. Birth can be an emotional, intense, and wonderful time, especially with extra support. Like care providers and birth places, find a doula that matches your personality and needs.
Did you write a birth plan? Did it help? Any tips for other couples? Leave your comments below!
I am a nurse, certified Birth Boot Camp Doula and Childbirth Educator, as well as a Positive Discipline Parenting Educator. I provide services in Acadiana area, including Lafayette & Eunice, LA. For more information about me and my services, visit M.Y. Birth & Baby. Let’s start planning for an AMAZING birth!