3 Tips For Writing A Birth Plan

Create Your Own Birth Plan

As a doula, birth educator, and prenatal yoga instructor, I teach about the importance of both a Birth Plan and Birth Intentions.

I’ve come to realize how important both can be in helping us figure out what we want, and then making sure we’re doing everything we can to make it happen.

There are so many decision-making moments throughout labor, and it’s impossible to prepare for every outcome. But there are some pretty common paths birth can take, and we want to be clear how we’d like to respond. Making those decisions on the fly, possibly between contractions, can be overwhelming.

This is where writing your birth plan comes in. It’s a great opportunity to sit down with your partner and talk about what you would want in different scenarios, so you’re on the same page.

We get the birth we get, and no plan can change that. But labor is called “normal” for a reason, and if your birth stays within normal limits, there are lots of choices you can make in advance that will give you pleasure and help you feel connected and supported.

Even if your birth goes in a surprising direction, there are choices you can make in advance that will make it easier to handle (like the Cesarean situation below).

I hope these tips for writing a birth plan help you release some anxiety and feel more confident as you prepare for your labor and postpartum experience.

Birth Plan Tip 1: Learn about your birth place’s policies.

Before writing your wishes down, make a call or go online to see what’s already in place. Your chosen birth place might surprise you. They may already be on the same page about something that matters to you.

For instance, if skin-to-skin after birth is something you wish to experience and you’re birthing with a “Baby Friendly” designated hospital, their routine care policy already includes immediate skin-to-skin.

Birth Plan

You might add that if you end up having a Cesarean,  you’d like your baby to be skin-to-skin with your partner.

If you know what the routine care practices & policies are, you can address what you want to be done differently on paper and with your care team.

If you’re having a hard time finding out about your birth place, reach out to doulas who attend births regularly at that facility and get feedback on what they see as standard care practice.

Birth Plan Tip 2: Keep it short, simple, and respectful.

Research shows that medical staff often disregards lengthy birth plans. Some studies even indicate that care providers unconsciously deem birthing people with extended, detailed birth plans as “more difficult patients.”

Many doulas and childbirth educators suggest that your birth plan contain only the most critical aspects of your wishes. Bullet points and a simple black font can go a long way, too, for easy reading!

birth plan prenantal yoga

Another insider trick to make it easy for your care team to notice? Attach your birth plan to an energy-giving, nourishing snack for the nurses and staff.

Birth Plan Tip 3: Don’t let the paper replace human interaction.

Birth plans can be a valuable tool, especially for families discussing what is important to them during birth.  However, the little sheet of paper shouldn’t ever take the place of having a conversation with nurses, midwives, and doctors on your birth team.

There’s nothing more productive to communication than looking into someone’s eyes and explaining why something is important to you as an individual or family.

Asking questions of your care team, to know them as individuals, and having a real conversation about your values is the best way to get respectful care in any setting.

Your birth plan can help guide these conversations, serving as a reminder of your original intentions for birth as you walk your path.

Birth Plan Tip 4: Take a Comprehensive, No-Slant Birth Prep Class.

It’s so important to connect to both your own inner wisdom, as well as outer guidance and knowledge.

When you’re looking for classes, make sure they are non-judgmental, and they prepare you for everything.

If they promise a natural birth, a home birth, or no pain… it can give you part of the picture, but not the whole picture.

Many moms find themselves feeling like they did something wrong if they only prepare for one kind of birth, and they end up having another.

This “wrong” feeling can really last, and takes a lot of work to heal from.

Instead, find a no-slant class (we offer a wonderful birth prep class live or self-paced online, The Yoga of Birth).

You’ll learn the pro’s and con’s of all your choices, so you can make the best ones for YOU.

Birth Plan Tip 5: Also Write Your Birth Intentions.

While your birth plan will express your preferences and desires for outer actions, your birth intentions are about your inner experience.

What qualities do you want to stay connected to?

What longings in your heart will motivate you forward?

What mantras, visualizations, or other reminders will take you to that place within, where you are all-powerful and all-knowing?

Get some tips for writing your Birth Intentions here.

 

You get the birth you get… and yet you can either feel prepared for or surprised by what happens. 

I hope you’ll take some time to learn about your choices in different situations. It can be scary to examine all the possibilities, but by avoiding thinking about different outcomes, we can actually make them feel bigger than they are, create resistance against them, and thus possibly help make them happen.

We don’t make negative outcomes happen by learning about them.

We can simply choose how we want to respond, inside and out.

Thank you for spreading the Ma love!

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