What is a birth plan for?

A birth plan is a list of your preferences for birth.

You might be wondering, “What’s the point of that?!”

I get that. I mean, plans change, especially regarding birth. In fact, I don’t think I know or have heard of anyone whose birth went exactly according to plan!

But I believe birth plans still have at least two valuable purposes.

The primary purpose of a birth plan is to be a tool for the parents in preparing for birth. Answering questions to form a birth plan can help them identify their values surrounding birth or help them prioritize or rank certain things (i.e., maybe I don’t want an epidural to be my first choice of pain management, but I’m still ranking it as a tool I might use; maybe I will feel less anxious with continuous fetal monitoring than with intermittent; maybe I want to deliver at a birth center and will only deliver at a hospital if it is an emergency situation; maybe I want the delivery space to be silent until I can whisper the traditional prayer into my newborn’s ear; etc.). Writing out what they want to have happen, what they’re okay with having happen, and what they don’t want to have happen helps parents set themselves up to experience the kind of birth they want. Also, it prepares parents to make decisions more easily when things do go off course from the initial plan.

But there is a second purpose to a birth plan, and that is as a tool of communication. Maybe you already know your comfort level with various strategies or interventions; maybe you and your significant others/family members/support people are all already on board with those. But the person on-call at the birth center, the nurse on shift when you show up at the hospital, or other people directly involved in your care are not usually part of those conversations. The birth plan, in these cases often manifested as a straightforward one-page document, helps communicate your desires to anyone who might be on your care team. Using a birth plan as a communication tool facilitates the parents focus on the process of laboring more so than the process of updating care providers on what the parents want from the birth.

So if you aren’t sure what your priorities are for your birth, or if you haven’t yet communicated those priorities to your partner/doula/care providers, try writing a birth plan!

If you want some help writing your birth plan, send me a message and we will set up a prenatal meeting where we walk through that process together.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

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