Write And Following A Birth Plan – A how-to guide with samples!
A birth plan is a way for you to communicate your desires and wishes to those involved in your birth experience. It details what you’d like to have happen, what you’d like to avoid, and anything else you’d like others to know.
While having a birth plan isn’t a necessity, there are many benefits to putting one together. Having it available to you and your healthcare team can be a great asset to your upcoming labor/postpartum experience!
Writing and having a birth plan CAN:
- Help you to feel prepared
- Encourage you to do research and figure out what’s important to you and what’s not
- Help you and your partner (and/or doula) to be on the same page for what you want
- Provide good topics to discuss with your healthcare provider and/or help you find one that can help meet your needs
- Help you remember your desires in the midst of labor (especially the difficult parts!)
Writing and having a birth plan will NOT:
- mean you get everything on your list
- ensure that you have the birth you planned
- mean nurses and providers won’t ask you questions you’ve already outlined answers to
Now to write yours! Here are a few tips for writing and using your birth plan.
- Keep it short and simple. One page if you can, 2 pages MAX.
- Include ONLY the things that are truly important to you. I cannot stress this enough! I’ve read birth plans with every detail planned, with all the latest trends and birthing fads, and then asked the mom-to-be, “Do you know what (such and such) is?” Too often I hear, “Well not really, but that’s what I read you should do (or others are doing)”. If you don’t know or don’t care about a particular detail, don’t include it! And don’t feel bad! Your healthcare provider WILL take care of you and your new baby, a birth plan is really designed to notify others of specific desires you have for your labor/postpartum experience. PLEASE do NOT include things you don’t care about. Fill it with things that are truly important to you!!!!!!!!
- Include fears or concerns you have, or other things you feel would be helpful for your birth team to know.
- Consider hospital/provider policy and adjust accordingly, but don’t feel you have to compromise your desires, know your options! Find the provider or birth environment that works with what you want. Take time to ask or research the policies for your birth place.
- Prepare for multiple scenarios. So many times we only include wishes for a natural delivery, but sometimes circumstances can present a need for a c-section or other interventions. While you can never be prepared for every scenario, don’t forget to think through the basic, common interventions and decide how you’d like to handle them.
- …rely so heavily on your birth plan that you are unable to cope with change. Birth is different and unpredictable, every time. Be open to new ideas and adjustments to your plan as they present themselves (and they WILL).
- …waste all your energy exploring EVERY different scenarios and intervention known to man. The best thing you can do is be prepared and have support. Having someone with additional knowledge and training, like a doula, can help walk you through difficult, uncommon options if they arise.
- …be afraid to ask questions! If you don’t know what something is, or an intervention is presented to you that you’re unfamiliar with, make sure you understand your options including benefits, risks, and alternatives.
- …feel like you have to make all the decisions right now. You can leave your options open!
- …be afraid to change your mind. If labor comes, and you decide you want something different, don’t be afraid to change the plan! That’s why they’re called “plans”
The most important thing to remember while writing a birth plan is to look at it for what it is… a PLAN. How many times in our lives have our plans changed? In the end, we hope to say, I’m happy knowing I made the best decisions I could with the information I had at the time.
All you can do, is all you can do right now. So do your research, discover what’s important to you, write your birth plan, and then go with the flow when the day comes. You CAN do this!!
♦ Links to Sample Birth Plans and Worksheets ♦
Ok, I’ve found a few samples with lots of options for you, but please, please, PLEASE only include what’s actually important to you! As you read through these, if you don’t care about a particular thing allow yourself to move to the next without feeling guilty. You will be a GREAT mother!! Don’t stress about things you don’t care about! (I can’t say that enough)
Next, get a pen and start making a list! Write down things that jump out to you. Consider making columns of: Definitely Want, Need to think about/research or talk with partner, Definitely Don’t Want. After you’ve got a good list, start writing your birth plan! Good luck!
Checklists of common options
- For Twins/Triplets Click Here
- Google some more if you want!
Sample Birth Plans
- There are so many online! If you have a specific method you plan to use, trying searching a specific birth plan sample (ie. Bradley method, hypnobirthing, etc)