What the heck is a Birth Plan?

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It sounds pretty straight forward, but with some much information out there, what exactly should you include? How long should it be? Will the doctors actually read it?

First things first try to find out the policies of the hospital or birth center where you plan on giving birth. Some procedures may be unavoidable, but perhaps there is an alternative. For example, in a lot of hospitals it is routine to administer an IV, however a possible alternative may be a saline lock (for just in case). It’s also good so you can see how they handle birth complications.

Americanpregnancy has a great sample list of questions (Follow the link).

After you make a draft of your birth plan, you can then bring it to an appointment and talk about it with your provider. They may come off a little off-put but try to combat that with positive phrases. Acknowledge that you know “no birth can be deemed normal, because it is a different experience for everybody”, and “these are some preferences,” you have for your birth.

“I would like to engage with skin to skin with my baby. I would like any testing to be done while the baby is laying against me.”

That comes off better not only to those who will be reading it, but also to yourself while you write it. The birth process is difficult, try to avoid adding extra stress to yourself.

With how unpredictable birth is, flexibility is key to help you overcome any obstacle. A big benefit to creating a birth plan is it helps you own the experience. You may consider having a page for if the birth is going, “normally,” and a page for if intervention becomes necessary. Try to emphasize the things that you do want, rather than what you don’t want.

Overall a Birth Plan can be a great tool for you to develop. It can help you feel confident in your decisions and preferences. It can also help the medical staff understand what things are important to you for your birth. Remember you can ask any questions you like to the providers, including if the it a medical emergency. If you feel like you will need a lot of support during your birth you can always consider a Doula. We are trained in Birth and Labor and are more than happy to support you and help you through this trying time.

Online Resources:

  1. AmericanPregnancy
  2. Whattoexpect (Has a sample if you need a jumping off point*)
  3. ChrildensMD

*Although you may find some pre-written ones online it is recommended to write out your own. It makes it much more personal and specifically is for you. (It also shows the medical staff that you have spent time doing research.)

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