Birth plans are unique to the individual writing them. In this blog post we will talk about creating a birth plan for you to present to your care provider so they understand your wishes for your birthing time.
First things first, you should try to start calling it birth preferences as you cannot plan birth, or anything else in life. The nurses and doctors or midwives will be more receptive to your written wishes if they know you are aware that you cannot plan birth and may have to make some compromise along the way.
Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.– John Lennon
You should have well-though-out birth preferences that are specific to you and your situation. You should not bring in the checklist birth plans, as it is not specific to you and does not list all of your options; it lists what options the hospital would like you to have. If you don’t know all of your options, consider taking an out-of-hospital comprehensive childbirth education class and hiring a doula. Your doula can answer any questions you may have about your birth options. You can also visit Evidence Based Birth to learn what the research says about your options. Go to the search bar at the bottom and type in your specific option, i.e. Vitamin K shot.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”― Benjamin Franklin
It i important to note that “hospital policy” only means they have to tell you what their policy is. It is your body, your birth, and your choice. You can decline anything you don’t feel comfortable with including no food and water during labor (please eat and stay hydrated!)
Hospital Birth Preferences
If you are delivering at a hospital, preregister. This will cut down on the questions they ask you when you get there. You can also help them by writing your name, date of birth, estimated due date (which is NOT an expiration date for the baby), and your doctor or midwife’s name. It is also helpful to state any health concerns such as diabetes, GBS status, if you are RH negative, etc.
Some people like to write their preferences in order of importance first. Other people like to write it in order of how birth would play out, first stage, second stage, third stage. Either way works. You can write it in paragraph form or with bullet points. You can also create a visual birth plan.
State It Positively
Your preferences should be written in a positive way. The nursing staff wants to help you, that is why they got into their career, so let them help you. Instead of making a list of demands, positively and politely ask them to help you, i.e. please help to keep the light dim, the room quiet, and a comfortable temperature. Please help us to avoid tearing with warm compresses., etc.
One Page Please
Your birth preferences should also not be longer than a page. Some nurses have a terrible joke that if it is longer than a page, it will be a cesarean section. You can adjust the margins and font, but don’t go too small with the font that you aren’t able to read it easily, especially if you want your room lighting to be dimmed.
If you have any special requests such as no students, no residents, and/or no male providers, it is helpful to state why. If you explain that you are a survivor of previous life trauma by males, the staff will be more receptive to this request.
Make It Relevant
You also want to make your preferences relevant. You don’t have to state that you don’t want an enema or shaving for a vaginal birth, because they no longer do those. If a cesarean become necessary, they will want to shave you before the surgery. It is wise to create birth preferences even for a cesarean as one in three women in the United States has a cesarean. Even if you cannot have a vaginal birth, you can still have your wishes honored. If you do have a cesarean, visit your local ICAN (Internataional Cesarean Awarenes Network) Chapter.
Try Out Our Birth Plan Generator
Here is our vaginal birth plan generator and cesarean birth plan generator (family-centered or gentle cesarean) with all of your options for your birthing day.
Home or Birth Center Birth Plan
If you are birthing at home or at a birth center, you should still have a list of preferences, although most of them will likely be standard practice. You should also have a birth plan in case of transfer and one for a cesarean.
The next step is to schedule a longer visit with your doctor or midwife and discuss your birth preferences. Don’t let them just stick it in your file without discussing it first. You want to make sure that they are on board with your wishes. If they are not, you can either accept the birth they are going to give you, or find a care provider who will allow you to have the birth you want. We suggest the second.
Should I Change Providers?
We get hung up on our provider as we have been seeing them for a while, or we don’t want to go through the hassle of switching providers. Most providers don’t have the same bond that we have with them. It is business for them, but personal for us. After the birth they probably won’t remember much about our birth experience, however, we will remember it all. Create a memory that you want to have with a provider that will help make it happen.