The idea of a birth plan is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people argue that birth is wildly unpredictable, so why try to plan it? In my opinion, it’s less about trying to ‘plan’ and more about being prepared for the ‘unplanned’. Knowing your options and being able to advocate for yourself in every scenario is crucial to feeling secure, supported and confident in your decision making.
A birth plan is a document that outlines your preferences and wishes for the labour, birth, and postpartum period. It is a way for you to communicate your desires to your healthcare provider and the hospital staff. A birth plan typically includes information on pain management options, birth positions, who you’d like present during the birth, your view on the use of medical interventions like induction or epidural, and other aspects of the birthing process. The purpose of a birth plan is to help ensure that your wishes and needs are taken into account throughout labour and birth, and to help facilitate a positive birthing experience.
Here are some helpful steps to follow when writing a birth plan:
- Research your options: Before you can create a birth plan, you need to know what options are available to you. This includes understanding different pain management techniques, birth positions, and medical interventions that may be recommended during labour and birth. Consult with your care provider, read books and articles, and attend childbirth classes to get a better understanding of your options.
- Make a list of preferences: Once you have an understanding of your options, make a list of the things you would prefer during labour and birth. This could include things like preferred pain management methods, birth positions, whether you want to use a bath or shower, whether you want to be able to move around during labour, and who you want to be present in the room with you.
- Prioritise your preferences: Some preferences may be more important to you than others. Prioritise your list based on what is most important to you and what you are willing to be flexible on.
- Write it down: Once you have your list of preferences, write them down in a clear and concise manner. Discuss the plan or list with your partner so that you’re both clear and on the same page about what it is that you wish for on your big day.
- Discuss it with your care provider: Schedule a time to discuss your birth plan with your healthcare provider. If you’re birthing in a hospital setting there may be some limitations or policies that don’t align with your desires. Discussing these and clarifying what is and isn’t possible once you’ve arrived at the hospital is worth doing beforehand.
- Share your birth plan: Share your birth plan with your partner, doula (if you have one), and anyone else who will be with you during labour and birth. Give a copy of the birth plan to your healthcare provider and hospital staff when you arrive at the hospital for birth.
Remember that a birth plan is not about setting things in stone. Things may change during labour and birth and it’s helpful to be open to flexibility and willing to adjust your plan as necessary. The most important thing is to clearly communicate your preferences and needs with your partner, care provider and hospital staff, to help ensure a positive birthing experience.
Erin Phibbs is a Midwife, Childbirth Educator, Mother of four and Founder of The Birth Trust.
Bare Mum does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The resources on our website are provided for informational purposes only. You should always consult with a healthcare professional regarding any medical diagnoses or treatment options.