Your Birth Plan
A birth plan is a communication tool. It is a link between you and your partner, your care provider and the nurses and staff that will care for you during your labor and the birth of your baby. Your birth plan describes your wishes and desires, fears and concerns that you have regarding your labor and the birth of your baby.
Why is it useful to write a birth plan? It gives you and your partner the opportunity to discuss your options and preferences for your labor, birth and the immediate care of your baby. Despite the communication channels that exist within a group of caregivers, you may not have continuous care by one person throughout your pregnancy and at your birth. A birth plan provides you with a communication tool to make all who care for you at every step of your labor and birth aware of your specific preferences.
Take some quiet time to talk with your partner about your wishes and desires for labor and birth. Take a childbirth class to learn about your options and identify your preferences.
Prepare a rough draft of your birth plan to give your care provider. You may wish to schedule a slightly longer appointment with your care provider so that you have time to discuss your birth plan.
Once you have revised your rough draft and have incorporated what you have discussed into your birth plan, you can prepare your final draft. Make a copy for yourself, your partner, your caregiver, your doula or second support person, and the nurses that will care for you in labor and after the birth of your baby.
Writing an effective birth plan
Remember that a birth plan is not a contract. It is a summary of your preferences regarding your labor, birth and care of your baby. It is an expression of your preferences in areas of care in which different acceptable approaches exist. A birth plan should not try to dictate your caregivers’ or nurses’ actions.
Keep it short and sweet. The most effective birth plans are written so that your care providers can easily understand your preferences. If something is important to you, it belongs in your birth plan. A birth plan does not need to include information that is not important to you. If something is routine, such as having your partner in the room with you, it does not need to be in your birth plan. If you do not have a strong preference on a particular subject, it does not need to be in a birth plan. A lengthy, detailed list of dos and don’ts won’t be as effective as a plan that is friendly, respectful and flexible — indicating your awareness that labor is not always normal or predictable.
Components of a birth plan:
An effective birth plan contains the following:
A short introduction (optional)
A description of your most important wishes and fears (optional)
A description of the room environment that you would labor best in (low lights?, door closed?, limited visitors?, phone off?, discussion kept to a minimum?, etc.)
A description of your preferences for managing labor pain. If you think you would like to delay or avoid pain medication, you could let your nurses know that they can support your efforts by not suggesting the use of pain medication to you. That way, you know you can ask for it whenever you feel the need.
Information on your preferences for each stage of normal labor and birth
Information on your preferences in case of a cesarean birth
Postpartum care for you
Newborn care for your baby (It is important to provide your care provider with the name and phone number of your baby’s care provider so that we may contact them for a checkup once your baby is born.)
To help you with your planning, feel free to use this Birth Plan template.
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