Birth the Way You Want by Writing a Birth Plan
I am writing this post to help you write a birth plan, specifically to those who are planning on birthing in a hospital.
However, this post is also intended for women who are choosing home birth – it will help you write a transfer plan in case of maternal fatigue or true emergency.
Before you can write a birth plan, you must understand your options. Before you plan for your options, you have to know what your options are.
Talk with your care provider about the choices you have during labor and delivery. If their idea of how you birth is different from yours, you have the option of firing them and hiring someone else whose vision is more closely aligned with yours.
Critics of birth plans would argue that many things during labor and delivery do not go to plan. But you wouldn’t have a wedding without planning!
Why You Should Write a Birth Plan
If you’re choosing to give birth in a hospital, it is important to write a birth plan so all the staff members know of your wishes during labor and delivery.
It is possible that many of the nurses you encounter that day will be unfamiliar, and if you’re there long enough, a whole new round of them will come for the next shift.
In some practices, Nurse Midwives work together in a group. The midwife on call will deliver your baby. A birth plan comes in handy in this situation, particularly if you aren’t well acquainted with each midwife.
At a home birth, you may feel a birth plan is not be necessary, as you most likely will have discussed the ins and outs of your birth-day with your midwife in great detail.
However, writing a birth plan for your birth team could be highly beneficial. It can be your way to communicate your wants, needs and serve to delegate tasks while you’re in labor so you don’t have to think about communicating, just laboring.
Although I did not write a birth plan, (I talked in length with my fiance, doula, midwife and other support staff) I had a lot of feelings surrounding my birth that I wanted to get out of my system. So I created a lot of birth art and taped them to the walls in my birth room.
Find Your Birth Plan “Style”
There are actually several different ways to write a birth plan.
A birth plan can be written as a formal letter, as a chart, broken down into categories or strictly in a “we do not consent to ______” format.
In a formal letter type of birth plan you would introduce yourself and include who will be with you during the birth. Include your major concerns and what is most important, the medical intervention you’re okay with vs. what you’d like to avoid.
- pain management
- speeding up/augmenting labor
- fetal monitoring
You should also include how you might like to push and the different styles or positions you may push in and how you’d prefer to handle hydration.
Talk about your preferences in case of a cesarean and other interventions that may be introduced at time of delivery such as use of forceps/vacuum and episiotomy.
My personal recommendation is to keep the letter style birth plan short and easy to read as it takes time to read and nurses are busy.
A type of birth plan that is easy and quick to read is the chart. Categorize into four subjects and write about each:
Environment | Pain Management
In Case of Emergency | Newborn Care
You could also categorize the subjects like this, writing a brief description under each:
1. Pain Relief
2. IV Access
3. Fetal Monitoring
5. In Case of Vaginal Birth
6. In Case of Cesarean Delivery
7. Newborn Care
8. Thank You!
Lets make writing your birth plan even easier to tackle!
I’ve found an interactive birth plan outline – simply fill out the answers right on your computer and print it out! How cool is that?!
Home Birth Transfer Plan Due to Fatigue or True Emergency
If you should become fatigued or simply decide you would feel more comfortable or relaxed birthing in a hospital, a birth plan is a very good idea to have pre-written and ready to bring along.
Here is a fantastic example of a home birth transfer plan.
In the case of true emergency.
Many may think if there is a true emergency and hospital transfer is impending, there is no need for a birth plan, but there is. There may be very important ideas you’d like to share with the staff about newborn care.
In this case I recommend a very simply worded form of a birth plan. Clear and direct, like this example:
We Do NOT Consent To
- Eye ointment
- Vitamin K
- Hep. B
- Formula or glucose water
Prepare in advance!
Whether you are birthing in a hospital, birth center or at home, it’s a good idea to discuss your ideas about birth with your care provider weeks before you go into labor.
Be sure to sign your birth plan and print at least two copies.
I hope this helped!