Time after time I am asked the following questions:
Do I really need a birth plan? quickly followed by What do I put in a birth plan?
Its actually quite easy, here’s the four steps to a killer birth plan (read on for the details!)
1. IDENTIFY YOUR OWN DESIRES AND NEEDS
2. UNDERSTAND THE BIRTH PROCESS
3. PREPARE FOR THE EXPERIENCE YOU WANT
4. COMMUNICATE YOUR ULTIMATE BIRTH PLAN WITH PROVIDERS
First of all, what is a birth plan for? It is typically referring to a document that is used as a list of preferences a mom (technically both parents, but we know who is really running the show) wants during her labor and birth. Usually it will include things about pain relief, interventions, and how to care for baby after delivery.
Here’s the problem with simply using a birth plan checklist– it assumes you understand the items on the list and assumes the person reading the document will do what it says. To counter this problem instead of allowing your birth plan to be simply a document, turn it into a tool. Not just a tool for communication, but also a tool to understand how you can achieve YOUR goals.
Four Steps to the Ultimate Birth
1. Identify your own desires and needs
Creating a birth plan that is based on a generic template might cover most of the bases for many people’s expectations. But you are not “many people” and, lets face it, you don’t want to be typical, you want to be special. I do, too. Envisioning your ideal birth is a great way to help you understand what your own desires and needs actually are. Once you know what is important to you, the document can be built around your wishes instead of just a random birth plan template.
2. Understand the birth process
It might sound a little silly to some, but ask most moms after they had their first baby and just about every single one will tell you there was something that happened during labor or birth, or just afterwards, that she hadn’t expected. Taking a childbirth class will help to prepare you for various situations as well as helping you to understand how work really works (hint, its not usually like you see one TV.)
3. Prepare for the experience you want
Here another big one folks, I see it time and time again. I meet with a client and she shows me her birth plan, then when I ask questions about it she doesn’t know what something means or how it applies to her. A friend or sister suggested she do XYZ or she read about how awesome ABC thing was done by a celebrity and assumes thats the best thing to do. Instead, use what you know about birth and your needs to figure out what steps need to be taken so you can reach your “goal achieved”.
4. Communicate your ultimate birth plan with providers
The last part of a birth plan is to actually make up that written document that you can share with providers. And I don’t mean just handing it over to the nurse when you check in at the hospital when your contractions are already just 4 minutes apart. And I’m not talking about only talking to your doctor about it. Communicate your wishes with your partner, sister, mom, doula or whomever else might be attending your birth, as well as your chiropractor and other providers who can help give complementary support to your plan.
Use your birth plan as a tool to equip yourself for birth, its worth so much more than being a checklist!