As you get closer to your due date, your care provider may have asked if you’re going to write a birth plan. Or maybe your doula or childbirth educator is touting the benefits of writing birth plans. But why should you create a birth plan and what should you put into it?
Birth plans or birth wish lists are simply communication tools between you and the staff at your birthing facility. Rather than telling each person who walks into your room what you want for your birth, you’ve written a plan the staff can read. This cuts down on being asked the same questions over and over (which is annoying when you’re in labor) and may prevent interventions from happening you’d like to avoid.
Good things to put down when you create your birth plan are
- Preferred pain management technique (i.e. do you want an epidural, do you want to avoid it or do you want narcotics)
- Intermittent vs. continuous fetal monitoring (do you want to get off the monitor to walk the halls and be the shower or do you want to be attached to a machine monitoring contractions and the baby’s heartbeat?) Click here for an article about fetal monitoring.
- Names of support people
- Whom you want in the room for the actual delivery
- Anything unusual the staff should know about such as allergies, phobias, religious preferences etc.
- Who you want in the operating room (if possible) if you have to have a c-section. Click here for an article about how to prevent a c-section.
- Whether or not you plan on breastfeeding
First, find out if your birthing facility has a standardized birth plan they’d prefer you to use. Standardized birth plans prevent mix-ups and help the staff find out what you want in a minimum amount of time. You can also add to a standardized birth plan if there are things not included in the standardized birth plan.
But if your birthing facility doesn’t have standardized birth plans, you’ll have to create it from scratch. You want to keep your birth plan to about a page. Avoid including any scents, or weird fonts in your birth plan. If you want to include a picture of you and your partner or print it on colored paper, go for it. This may help it to stand out.
State at the top that you understand emergencies may occur and you may not get what is included in the plan. You should also use positive language in birth plans such as “would prefer…”, “please help us to…”, “we appreciate…” Use plenty of pleases and thank you. Try to avoid saying, “do not” or “will not” because you never know what may become necessary during your birth.
Do not use a check-off box form, unless it’s the standardized birth plan your facility has provided. No one reads these thoroughly and they can be confusing for staff that skims over documents.