Why Bother with Birth Plans?
Posted on October 7th, 2015
Download your free birth plan worksheet & checklist here!
Very recently we did a photo shoot and it just so happened our hairdresser was pregnant (our favourite kind of person!). She ended up asking us all sorts of questions and we asked her if she had a birth plan. She responded with “My what? I don’t have a birth plan. What is it? What is it for?” So we thought, I bet a lot of other women have that question.
So lets get into it!
What is a birth plan and why do we need one?
Maybe you have heard about birth plans before, but haven’t figured out how or why to get one done. Maybe you have had well intentioned friends tell you not to do one, because labour never goes as planned.
Well, you might be surprised to find out that planning every step of your birth is not the reason we recommend a birth plan.
1. Gets you prepared for what is to come
The best thing about a birth plan is that It gives you a chance to research all of your options around birth. There are so many things that could happen during birth that for many it’s terrifying just to think about all the unknowns. Many women are even unaware that they have options, that they can ask for or deny certain interventions. The best way to prepare for birth is to know your options so when your healthcare provider asks you how you feel about an intervention, you have an answer.
2. Gives you a voice when you may not have one
Typically, labouring women do not have the ability to say long sentences think cognitively during birth. They are very busy and they are trying to come up with coping mechanisms or they have found their zone. Writing down your wants on your birth plan lets all your support team (partner, doula, healthcare provider) know exactly what you need during labour and how you want to be treated. That way, if a question is asked during birth and you don’t feel like answering they can look to your birth plan or your support can answer. Obviously, you don’t know what birth is like, so maybe you will change everything once you get there, and That is fine too!
3. Starts communication between you and your healthcare provider
Birth plans give you and your healthcare provider a chance to talk about all the option they provide and how they work with your ideal plan. As long as your choices are safe for you and your baby, healthcare providers are typically happy to take a look at what you want on the big day. You may have differences of opinions about what interventions you are/or are not ok with but as long as you talk with them at around 36 weeks, you have time to do a bit of back and forth. .
What does a birth plan include?
For a complete rundown of what a birth plan should include download the worksheet and checklist. It has all your options listed and organized to make it easy for you to do some research and decide what is best for you and your birth.
We did throw together a few tips for making a really great birth plan that will be well received by your support team. I know that we listed lots of options but ironically you want it really short!
- Keep it short, one page or less. Having catch all phrases like “no medical interventions unless necessary” or “an epidural right away” will make this easier.
- It is great if you have it typed with your name at the top, because then anyone can read it and know who’s it is. If you have access to something that you can type and print your birth plan on, it is best.
- You should list the people that will be in the birth room on there. If you have a doula, or partner put their name down or anybody else that you expect you would want to come in the room. Make sure to list their full names so that the staff and your health care team will have an idea of who the players will be around the mom who is in labour.
- We also suggest that you make a couple of copies. Your partner (if you have one), your doula, or family member who may enter the room should have a copy. Your healthcare provider and nurses will also need one, they will probably even ask for one.
It is really easy to feel overwhelmed, I know that we just said a ton of things to you all at once, but pick up the book The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin. It will help you as you work through the worksheet & checklist.
If you need help with your plan or have questions please comment below!
FREE Worksheet & Checklist
Ok, so now you know WHY it’s important to do up a birth plan, but you may be asking HOW? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Download your FREE birth plan worksheet & checklist now!