Should I Bother with a Birth Plan?

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Are you considering a birth plan?

Birth planning is much less about the written plan itself,  than the information you must possess to create it. Many expecting women avoid birth planning because they fear possible confrontation with their doctors and nurses. I’ve met some doctors and nurses who commend a patient for not bringing a written birth plan. I’ve also met providers who encourage them. There are, of course, many aspects of labor that can’t be predicted. 

Not having a birth plan can lead to rushed decision-making. Many women without a written plan have complete control over their birth, because they did research ahead of time and became familiar with their options. Whatever you choose, you deserve to feel empowered. It is after all, your body, your baby, and YOUR birth.

Why I would recommend creating a written birth plan:

  • It provides your birth team with your preferences upfront so they don’t need to keep asking throughout your labor.

  • Helps your partner remember your preferences when you need support in your decision-making.

  • Encourages research on various topics, such as choices in monitoring.

  • Ex. Do you know the difference between a telemetry monitor and intermittent monitoring with a Doppler? Do you know that you have a choice in how you are monitored?

  • Your provider may be unavailable to attend your birth, in which case you will need to explain everything to a new provider. 

“But I’m having my baby at home/in a birth center.”

            The fact that you are having a birth at home or a birth center means that you are probably educated about the procedures you would like to have and/or avoid during your birth. I would also gather that you would like to maintain as many of your choices as possible should you need a hospital transfer. Even if your provider goes with you, there will be a whole staff of people, i.e. intake coordinators, labor and delivery nurses, pediatric nurses and recovery nurses who you will be meeting for the first time and who will not be familiar with your choices. If you are needing a hospital transfer, chances are that you won't be in an ideal state of mind to explain everything you want in detail. 

Whether or not you decide to make a birth plan:

DO

  • Stay Flexible

  • Keep it short and to the point (think resume)

  • Talk to your care provider about your choices BEFORE you are in labor

  • Know your options, even if you choose not to write them in a formal plan

  • Consider hiring a doula who can help navigate hospital policies, birth options and any potential hopes or fears attached to your upcoming birth

DON'T

  • Assume that because it is written in your plan that it will happen. You will probably still need to advocate for yourself

  • Be afraid to ask your provider about your choices when you are in labor should something come up that you weren't prepared for. 

  • Hesitate to change providers if your current care provider is not supportive of what you need to feel safe and empowered during birth.

 

Did you have a birth plan? Are you glad that you took the time to make one, or was it a waste of time? Comment with other Do's and Don'ts that I may have forgotten!