First, let’s do a mental backflip! Many professionals in the birth world like to refer to it as a birth wishlist instead of a birth “plan”. Why? Because birth is unpredictable! A plan implies you have a level of control, when in truth, birth is all about letting go.
So if you have no control, why do you need a birth plan?
First, there are many scenarios that may present themselves during your labour and birth. By coming up with a “plan”, you are forcing yourself to sit down and review your options. You might be surprised by what you learn about birth and yourself in the process!
Second, there might be aspects of your birth experience that are very important to you. By bringing a printed copy of your birthing goals to your primary care provider you are opening the doors for communication. Most care providers have a way that they like to do things. Sometimes this is because of a policy or safety concern, and other times it is simply a habit. If you bring in a list of the things you desire most during your labour and birth this will give you an opportunity to discuss your options with your care provider and sometimes promote change!
Third, how can you expect anyone else to know what you want from your birth if you don’t know, or haven’t told anyone? How will your care provider know you would like a mirror to watch your baby being born if you never knew it was an option? How will your nurse know you really don’t want any narcotics offered if they have not been told? Creating a birth plan is about creating transparency.
So now that you know WHY you need one, WHAT should you include?
When deciding WHAT to include in your birth plan it is important to figure out what is most important to you. In order to this you will need to explore the many options that might be available to you! Here are just a few examples of things you might wish to include in your birth plan.
Now that you know WHAT to include, HOW do you make it?
Visuals, visuals, VISUALS! I personally prefer a visual birth plan because it allows your birth team to see your wishes at a glance! Once you know what you want your birth plan to say, you can write out your options or make a visual plan like the one below (the icons I have used were originally made by Seanna and can be found here http://imgur.com/a/PAFkn#0). As well as your eye catching visuals you should also include a little blurb about who you are and your general goals for your birth experience. This is also a great place for you to share your alternative wishes should things not go as hoped.
And there you have it! Your very own birth plan!! It doesn’t have to be beautiful (although that never hurts!) but it should be to the point, easy to read and cover everything that is important to you regarding your birth experience!
Doula, Childbirth Educator and lover of everything pregnancy, birth and babies!
Mom of 3, Birth Doula , CBE , Breastfeeding Educator, CIMI, and Photographer!