If you have decided to provide a written birth plan to your birth team, it's most likely the case that you want to be heard, understood, and respected. Nurses, midwives, and doctors have become more and more familiar to birth plans and have had some good exposure and bad exposure over the years. You want your experience to be the best. Well, I'm here to help you accomplish this task.
5 tips for writing a birth plan that works:
1. Keep it short: One page max.
Your care providers have a mountain of paperwork growing in your file. When you are in labor, you want your birth plan easily accessible and easy to reference. Do your best to fit your plan on one sheet so that your birth team can easily see your goals.
2. Keep your language positive.
I remember seeing a huge surplus of online birth plan generators for years. They basically printed out a 6 page list of things you do and do not want. Here's the thing: you want to develop an ongoing conversation with your care providers so that they will keep it going throughout your labor and birth. For example, instead of saying, "I do not want my water broken," just a general "If you feel an intervention is necessary, please discuss the risks and benefits as well as alternative options with me so that we can decide together what the best action for our course is." Which is a good prelude to our next tip.
3. Be realistic.
It's hard to predict the future, you know? We all have our ideal birth plan for the ideal world. But what is even more ideal than our fantasy birth is the realistic aspect of advocating for yourself in the best as well as the worst circumstances. Choose language that reflects your implicit desire to function as a team of decision makers regarding the care you and your newborn receive during pregnancy and birth.
4. Outline your goals.
We all have a goal, right? Every hospital you walk into, you'll see the same thing written on the wall. "Goal: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby."
Well, there's more to it than that. Listed below are examples of goal statements that can be included:
My goal is to have as few interventions as possible. If you feel like an intervention would be beneficial at any time, please discuss the pro’s and con’s with me, how it will affect my birth plan (pain management goals), and provide any evidence-based information if you have it available.
Please discuss any routine procedure with me before proceeding with it.
My goals for pain management are to have freedom of movement during labor and birth. I will ask for my options regarding pain management as needed.
5. Don't forget 3rd stage of labor and newborn care procedures.
If you are having a hospital birth, you will be asked repeatedly from the moment you are admitted to the hospital till the moment you leave about newborn care procedures. If you would like any of the procedures performed, you simply need to say, "I consent to x,y,and z." If they ask you about additional procedures, simply say, "I do not consent." These words are important words to use in labor, and something I will probably post a blog about on a different day.
My goal for my clients is to ultimately use the birth plan as a method of developing a conversation for shared decision making between the birth team and the family. Just keeping these 5 things in mind is a great start!
If you are still overwhelmed at the thought of planning your birth, that's why we are here. Traditional Doula Services are a great service that give an all encompassed amount of support from a birth professional throughout your pregnancy into the postpartum period. If you are simply hoping for someone to text, email, and ask advice among having other bits of support, we offer Virtual Doula Services which even make us available to contact 24/7 during your birth. There are so many options of support out there. Feel free to contact us any time to discuss your options. We'd love to get together for a complimentary consultation to help you find what you are looking for!