Excitement – that wonderful emotion a couple feels when they learn they’re pregnant and expecting a child. Imagination starts mobilizing… there’s a nursery to decorate and cute baby clothes to buy. As the day of your precious baby’s arrival approaches, the days are filled with prenatal classes, registering at the hospital of choice, and having baby showers. It’s a crazy time full of new things! One thing that is commonly forgotten in this mix of emotions and to-do lists is to establish a birth plan.
So many women have an image in their mind of the birth experience they are working towards, this idea can often be formed by what is seen on TV or in the movies. There’s often an idealized view of how everything is going to go, and it is so easy to neglect making a plan to see the vision through. The birth plan is kind of like a the cool headed GPS that helps keeps the trip on track even when detours come. Birth is so unpredictable and detours are very often inevitable.
A birth plan is an excellent communication tool between you and your OB/Midwife, Doula, & Partner. It is a written plan of your preference that you have created prior to labor. This allows you an opportunity to communicate your desires & goals adequately with your birth team. By writing a birth plan, you are also educating yourself on the birth process and the procedures you may encounter as you labor and birth your baby. It is a tool to help you understand your preferences so that you are prepared when the time comes. This planning time also allows you to envision your birth experience the way you desire it to look as you navigate the twists and turns along the way.
Having a birth plan helps you feel more ownership and control in your birth process. Are there sounds you want to hear (or not hear), smells you want to smell (or not smell), positions that you want to labor in, etc. This is a plan where you indicate what your preferences are for induction of labor, the use pain management (or not) or even for planned c-sections. You can include how you desire your baby to be handled after delivery and your preferences on immediate skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping, etc.
Keeping in mind that this is a plan and plans don’t always go as we want them to. Think of a road trip to New York from Florida. We have planned our route, our hotels along the way, and where we will stop for gas. We can plan everything to the minute, but roadwork, and/or accidents on the highway could result in a detour we weren’t expecting. We will still get to our destination, but it may take us a different way than we anticipated. Birth plans have some detours and exits along the way that may be different from what you desired. Flexibility is important, but having the plan in place allows your birth team to know your desires and to help you stay on course as much as possible.
Communication is key. Once you have researched and written your birth plan, don’t forget the most important part: to go over it with your provider. Discussing it with your doctor or midwife helps ensure that everyone is on the same page prior to labor.
We understand that the idea of writing a birth plan can be overwhelming. We offer Childbirth Education classes and Birth Planning Sessions in both private and group settings and Doula support to help guide you through this process. We really want to see you have the birth you envision and we are here to help.