What is a Birth Plan?
- A Birth plan is a form of written communication that expresses needs and desires for the birth you want to achieve.
- A Birth Plan can help to build relationships that are positive between people on your birth team.
- Demonstrated knowledge and preparedness.
- Reflects a welcoming attitude, uses language that anticipated good outcomes and cooperation toward your goals.
What a Birth Plan IS NOT:
- A directive. A birth plan should never use demanding or authoritative language.
- Inflexible. A birth plan should always have room for flexibility so that it will be adaptable in various unforeseen cases or situations that may arise during labor and birth.
- Controlling: A birth plan should not be an attempt to control outcomes instead of using communication and knowledge. The benefits and risks must be willingly discussed and taking into account. Parents must be knowledgeable and able to have these discussions in order to make the best decisions based on informed consent.
How to Begin a Birth Plan
- Research Birth Plans online and find a worksheet if possible.
- Make sure you read every page and that you highlight the things you do not understand.
- Research the answers to the best of your ability.
- Go over your birth plan with your midwife or doctor, your doula, your partner and whoever else will be with you at your birth.
Before you create your birth plan it is a good idea to take a tour of the place you will be giving birth and to discuss to great extent what will be allowed and what will not be with your doctor or midwife and place of birth. This will help to shorten your birth plan and make it less redundant for those who will be helping you during labor and birth. For example, if you are delivering at a hospital, you may want to ask if it is possible to move around and try different positions. If the answer is yes and you are able to move freely, you may want to put less detail about which birthing positions you are going to do.
One of the most important questions you should ask is whether or not your doctor, midwife or place of birth will put a limit on how long they will let labor continue before they will intervene. This also brings up the question of how long you will want to labor at home. Some women will want to wait as long as possible before they leave home, while others will want to go to the hospital or birthing center as soon as possible. Finding out how soon your place of birth will admit you will also be important.
After labor and delivery are over, you may have plans for what you would like to happen afterwards which you should also put into your Birth Plan. For example, if you want immediate skin to skin contact with your baby after birth, write it down in your Birth Plan. If you want to keep your placenta for later use you should also put this in your birth plan. A Birth Plan can also be made if you are scheduling a C Section and is especially important for expressing how you want your baby to be cared for after delivery.
Adapted by Cheriena Serganin from the worksheet “Birth Plan Counseling” from the DONA Certification Workshop by Debbie Levin.