birth plan

Birth Plans – Top 10 Tips For Finishing The Birth Plan

Keep The Birth Plan Short And Sweet

When you provide your birth plan to your medical team during your birth, it’s easier for them to remember if it is short and sweet. If it’s short like a memo, they can read it over and over again as they access your file. Sometimes shorter documents help get a point across more efficiently than a document that is several pages long. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you that. Personally, I’m one of those moms that would write a dissertation on how I want my birth to go. When writing the birth plan, I like to guide the parents-to-be to think of it like a resume. You want your provider to get the highlights, and to build a conversation with you about your preferences. It actually makes your experience more intimate. But totally give your partner, doula, family, or friends the dissertation version. Your medical provider only handles the medical stuff. The songs you want played during labor is more of a personal thing to give to your right hand support team as opposed to your doctor.

Write About What You Don’t Want

Because so much of labor and birth is actually totally normal, and, dare I say it, pretty predictable, make a list of what you don’t want. It’s pretty much a given that you want healthy and happy outcomes. We all want that. But if there is something that stands out to you that would negatively affect your birth experience, take major note of that. For some families, they are 100% sure that they don’t want an episiotomy, or an epidural. There are literally hundreds of ways to personally customize your birth plan and preferences. So maybe have a cover sheet with the big no-nos, and then the longer version of everything else. It will totally, and for good reason, hurt your feelings if you had a very explicit thing listed in your birth plan, your wishes weren’t respected, and it was because it got overlooked in your file.


Give It To The Right People

The medical stuff goes to your doctor. The type of soft touch you like goes to your partner. The list of foods you know you’re going to crave after the birth go to your mother-in-law. The types of relief you want to try relating to positions and comfort measures goes to your doula. Sometimes these roles do overlap. Which is awesome, because you have twice the help in some areas. Think of it like a birth plan that is broken up into sections. You assign a role to each person. And you give them their job.

Consider Your Emotions, Your Mental State, and Your Bodily Needs

Your overall birth plan relates to more than your health. While we always have the focus on making sure our doctor knows about our birth plan, it’s actually more of a template for helping us mentally prepare for the birth. Some people handle big events better with a plan. Other people want to wing it. If you’re one of the people that prefers a plan, your birth plan involves a lot of dynamics. What medical procedures do you want? Or want to avoid? What medications do you prefer, or none at all? But, also, what kinds of non-medical things will help you feel good and safe during labor? Music? Massage? A birth ball? Who do you want in the room with you? Do you want it to be dark? Quiet?

Research Your Birth Plan Options

You typed, “birth plan” into Google. You got a template with checkboxes. But you have no idea what the words next to the boxes mean. Don’t feel bad. That’s normal. You can Google each word individually. If you’re a visual learner,  you can watch Youtube videos. If you prefer a face to face education, hire a private childbirth educator or go to a childbirth class. You could even go on a hot date to Barnes & Noble to buy a pregnancy and birth guide. Just don’t forget a warm brownie from the Starbucks counter. That’s a crucial step.

Understand That Life Happens

I’m really sorry to be the one to tell you that your birth plan isn’t going to work out 100% in the order that it’s written. Despite that, your birth experience can still be, and usually is, perfect. This kind of goes back to the ideas of knowing very clearly what you do and do not want so that you are able to go with the flow on changes you aren’t as bothered by, but are able to know your options and rights for any big battles that come your way. And when I say big battle, I don’t mean a big battle with your obstetrician or midwife. I mean the big battle over the difference between the fantasy birth and the birth that is happening.


Make A Plan For Baby, And Give It To Recovery

Once your baby is born, it’s almost like your entire medical team switches into new people. Your baby has a pediatrician in the hospital and a whole new team of nurses you’ve never seen before. There is usually an hour or two where services overlap, so keep that in mind. But, for the most part, if you have preferences as to how your baby is cared for, it is important to also share them with your postpartum recovery team.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

One of the great things about building a birth plan is the opportunity to communicate with your own brain, your partner, your medical team, and your family. In some cases, talking about the birth plan with your birth team before the big day helps people understand their roles and how they can best support you. The best person to talk about your birth plan with is your partner. You learn about how you both feel regarding birth and parenting in these sessions, and that’s super useful information to have!

Make A Backup To The Backup’s Backup

If you want to give your birth plan to one person, make five copies. If you’ve given your birth plan to your medical provider during a prenatal appointment, also bring a copy to your birth. Sometimes it goes in your chart, and you still need a copy. Give a copy to your doula, or anyone else on your birth team. The further you spread the birth plan, the more likely it is that someone will have a copy should you need to see it. You could also save it online in a Google drive, or e-mail it to yourself and your team.

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  1. […] You have dreams, nursery decor, fears, and anxieties. Is your pregnancy normal? Is your birth plan possible? (Read: 10 Tips For Finishing Your Birth Plan). […]

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