how to write a birth plan

What You Should Know About Making a Birth Plan


The pee-stick is becoming a distant, faded memory, and your due date is just around the corner. You’re no longer online shopping for fashionable maternity clothes, you’ve instead taken to checking the athletic department for discount leggings, because you’re now living in yoga pants and a crop top (it didn’t used to be a crop top…)

As birth-day gets closer you’re thinking more about your birth-plan. Some of you may be wondering, “Do I really need one? What’s the point?”, while others of you are trying to decipher which of all these many important issues need to be clearly laid out for anyone who comes near your birth.  Whether you are the ultra planning type or of the carpe diem variety, when it comes to working out your birth plan, this is the time to find a middle ground. 

1.       Do your research. You may not be the information gathering type, but this is a time in your life when you’ve got put your nose down and learn a bit about birth. Take a prenatal class with your partner. Your hospital or health unit may offer free classes, or you can find a childbirth educator in your community that offers group or private classes for a fee. Get a copy of the Birth Partner and read it with your  partner! Knowing a bit about what you can expect and deciding how you feel about those things is the first step in coming up with your birth plan.

2.       Talk with your provider. It's important to approach your provider with politeness, reassuring them that your planning is not because of a lack of trust, but rather to allow for clear communication.  Ask lot’s of questions. Ask her about her position on the issues that matter to you. Talking to your provider about your concerns and preferences before your birth is important; it means having a peace of mind that you will be going into the birth room on the same page, or knowing that you may not see eye to eye and deciding then how you will approach your birth plan with that information. Find out what your hospital’s policies are regarding important procedures or protocols(or ask your doula), and develop your plan based on knowing these things. You don’t need to include things like, “delay cord clamping”, if your hospital adheres to this policy already.

3.       Be flexible. A plan is just a plan. Your birth preferences are a compilation of your desires and hopes, perhaps your wishes and fears, as well as some of the non-negotiables that matter most to you during the birth of your baby. Try to use language like, "we'd prefer", or "unless medically necessary". The fact is, things do not always go as hoped or planned, and even the most important birth wishes sometimes must be left on paper in the best interest of mother and infant. Be prepared, but be flexible. Relaxing about the minor details of labor will also help you let go of control and let nature take its course.

4.       Plan to have great support. Birth can be a high speed whirlwind, or a long, exhausting marathon. Your birth plan may have dotted i's and crossed t's, but having support beyond just you and your partner is irreplaceable. Finding a care provider that you can trust and a doula that you connect with and will support your birth choices, are crucial to your birth plans. Having your birth team in your corner reminding you of what you want and affirming you when things don't go as planned, is the best birth plan you can have.