Birth Doula Blog
Birth Plans Help Explore Your Wishes and Prepare You For the Unexpected
A birth plan or birth preference list is a helpful way to honor your choices. No matter what kind of birth you want, a good list will have you thinking about all the possibilities during labor, the immediate postpartum hours, and newborn procedures. It's important to understand that no one can guarantee your experience and that it's always a good idea to be open to different paths.
There is lots of research to be done but all that knowledge will help you feel prepared. Also, you DO have choices and can turn down most procedures if you're not comfortable with them! Having a supportive and non-biased person like a doula can help you see clearly at a time when emotions are intense.
BIRTH PLAN TIPS
-Less is more! Your birth team doesn't want to read a book on your wishes. Keep it simple and straight to the point. Consider icons to make your plan even shorter and easier to read. An acceptable list is 1-2 pages long, clear to read, and not wordy.
-Look into your hospital's labor/birth and newborn procedures. Leave out the stuff that's standard and you agree with in order to keep it short.
-Include who is part of your birth team and what their role is.
-Sweeten the deal! It never hurts to hand over your list along with a few snacks or treats for the staff. Bring a copy with you in your hospital bag.
-Specify if and when you'd like pain relief. Say which you're open to and which you're not. Would you rather the staff bring up an epidural when they believe you need it or would you rather they not mention it at all?
-Consider the "what ifs." Even though you may not want a C-section, tearing, or a stalled labor, it's important to understand these are all possibilities. Specify what you prefer in the event a C-section is being considered or should any other complication arise. Do you want a second opinion, more time to wait it out, attempt forceps, or to externally rotate the baby? Would you prefer to forgo an episiotomy and tear naturally?
How do you feel about getting membranes ruptured and being monitored? What's the plan if it's taking too long?
-What about after? When do you want baby in your arms and what kind of procedures do you want to delay/avoid? Will the placenta be saved and when does the cord get cut? How will you feed baby?
To help get answers to these questions, you will have to do some reading, discuss with your provider, and even consult your mom friends. Most importantly, have an open dialogue with your birth partner so they understand your wishes and can help keep you on track during labor. You could also enlist the help of a doula to create your ideal plan!