Creating a birth plan is an important step in preparing for your upcoming delivery. A birth plan is a document outlining your preferences and expectations for labor, delivery, and post-delivery care. It’s an opportunity to communicate your preferences and discuss them with your healthcare team so that everyone is on the same page. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what to include in your birth plan and why it’s so important.
How Birth Plans Help
Birth plans help families clearly communicate with their provider & nursing team by:
- expressing a family’s thoughtful birthing options to set a climate of expectancy,
- securing informed consent and engaging in shared decisionmaking
Address What You DO and DON’T Want
DO want: good communication, a listening provider, medical expertise, compassion, patience, shared decision making and continuous support.
DON’T want: restriction of movement, coercion, to be rushed, poor communication, negative energy or comments from staff.
Know Your Pain Management Options
Every birthing space has different capabilities for meeting your comfort needs. Whether it’s your home, a birth center, or a hospital, pick a space that can give you the maximum amount of pain relief options that will help you get your birthing day goal. Here are a few things you may want to ensure your birthing space offers:
- birth doula
- space for movement
- dopplers for monitoring baby
- birth balls
- peanut balls
- nitrous oxide
- hot shower
- deep birthing tub/pool
- birthing stool
- lighting options
- IV pain medications
Choose Who You Want In The Room
It’s critical to have supportive people around you during your birth. Birthing people should not be left alone to labor. Choose people who can give you emotional and physical support and who can be an advocate for you. An advocate who is informed about normal physiologic birth, medical interventions, and how to communicate with your medical teams is invaluable. They can be a family member or a professional birth doula. A professional birth doula provides continuous emotional, physical, and informational support to the birthing person before, during, and after childbirth. Birth doulas can help you create a birth plan and explore all the options available to you.
Include A Doula In Your Plan
One of the most helpful components of creating an individualized birth plan is seeking out the assistance of a birth doula. A birth doula acts as an expert who can not only provide evidence based information about childbirth while also validating each family’s individual desires for your birth experience. By working alongside the family’s healthcare provider and medical team, the doula assists in keeping the family apprised of any changes that may arise during labor, thus helping them make more well-rounded decisions about birth. Additionally, having a doula present during labor has been proven to reduce the rate of cesarean births and decrease the amount of time spent pushing during birth. As such, hiring a birth doula can be extremely beneficial to the mother-baby dyad during the entire labor process.
Discuss Your Birth Plan With Your Care Provider
It’s important that your doctor or midwife are aware that you have a birth plan and are aware of any changes you make along the way. Take time to discuss one major goal per provider meeting over the last two months of medical visits. This allows enough time to create agreement on items and share reasoning with one another. Once the review is completed, a final plan can be printed and added to your birthing file-ready for the big day!
Be Prepared To Change Your Mind
It is probably better to refer to the “birth plan” as your “birth preferences”, because birth is unpredictable. As the birthing day (or days) unfolds, it’s important to be flexible, so you can respond to the actual way your birth is unfolding. Your birth doula can help you stay on track with your desires and provide additional support if any complications arise. Additionally, a birth doula can help you understand potential medical interventions that may become necessary and provide emotional reassurance throughout labor. Change is a part of the birthing process. Be ready to shift.