There are a couple of different camps when it comes to birth plans.
I'm somewhere in the middle, I suppose. In my experience, birth is unique for every woman and "textbook" births are rare, but I do think having a plan is important. Here's why...
Having a plan is a conversation starter.
I encourage my clients to start working on their birth plan at our first prenatal visit (usually in the beginning of the 3rd trimester). Next, I encourage them to discuss it with their provider. This typically pushes some deeper conversations about how the provider approaches birth and what they feel comfortable with. Often times, this brings to light some deal breakers for my client and they switch providers. Sometimes it confirms they are on the same page and builds trusts. Either way, it helps you and your care provider learn more about each other.
Having a plan helps determine your philosophy about birth.
Writing down what's important to you, helps you to get a grasp on how you will approach your birth. This will also help your birthing team (care provider, doula, staff, family members) gain insight into what is on or off limits for your care.
Having a plan builds knowledge.
Before you can spell out your preferences, you might have to do a little research to know what they are. Learning about the pros/cons of vaginal exams, cord clamping, electronic fetal monitoring, ect. helps you to be knowledgeable about the procedures.
Having a plan engages you in your care.
Because you've done the research, you now know the usual and customary procedures for your birth. So when something deviates from that plan, you naturally speak up and ask why. Being engaged in your own care goes a long way in making sure you received true informed consent and will also help ensure you receive the best care possible for you as an individual.
HOW TO WRITE A BIRTH PLAN
Preparing a birth plan is pretty simple. You simply need to include your identifying information and a list of your preferences. However, I can tell you that long or jumbled birth plans are less likely to be read.
Here are a few key tips when writing a birth plan.
Below is a sample birth plan format that you can use to get you started. Please note that this is just a sample plan. nYn does not advocate for or against any of these procedures.
Click here to be taken to the Google Doc version. You can click File>Download As>Microsoft Word to save and edit this plan for yourself.
Have questions? Need more info? Having trouble with the Google Doc? Feel free to contact me at nurturingYOUnaturally@gmail.com.
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Staci Bishop, CD, HCHD