With your due date quickly approaching, you probably have an idea of how you want your baby’s birth to go. Maybe you want a natural birth, maybe you want an epidural, or perhaps you wish to schedule a cesarean. No matter what you choose, more than likely, you are probably feeling more and more anxious as your due date gets closer, which I will say is completely normal. The way to feel more confident about your baby’s birth is to educate yourself about all available options. Don’t let giving birth just happen to you. Be an active participant. This way, you will feel much more prepared and confident when it comes to your baby’s birth day.
There are so many ways to have a baby, and it should be the experience you want it to be! You only get to have this baby once, and this experience will be with you forever. So let’s make it a positive one.
What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is a document that lets your maternity healthcare provider know what your preferences are during labor, birth, immediately after birth, and recovery. You can include things like managing labor pain, who will be allowed in the room during delivery, and how you would like to push. Also, if you would like to do immediate skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping or donating/banking your baby’s cord blood, and so much more. Having a printed document gives you a place to make your wishes clear so that everyone present – your doctor/midwife, nurse(s), partner, doula, etc. – can respect your wishes and do the best to make it the experience that you want it to be.
Once you’ve made these decisions about your labor, birth, and recovery, a birth plan will help you remember these details on the big day. Hopefully, you will talk about these choices with your care provider beforehand at your prenatal visits to ensure that your doctor/midwife supports you with all of your decisions. They have many patients that they care for, so often, small details and choices you made and discussed with them can be forgotten. This is why you shouldn’t rely on them remembering your conversations.
As for you, you will be a bit busy since you will be the one going through labor and giving birth. Being the laboring mama can make it difficult to speak up for yourself and remind your team about your preferences. Having the ability to hand over a document with your wishes makes it so much easier.
Your partner could be the one to remember all of your desires during labor and birth. They will do their best to support you during the big day, but more than likely, because they’ve never supported someone through labor and delivery, they won’t be exactly sure what’s going on and when or how to best advocate your choices. Having a birth plan can be a helpful reminder of the things that you both discussed.
Having a professional in the room designated to remember all of your choices, like a doula, is a great option to have. Even doulas like to have notes of what your preferences are. Some even require a birth plan so that they can be your best advocate and support during your baby’s birth. These are all great reasons why you should create the best birth plan for yourself.
I don’t like to call this document a “birth plan,” and instead, I prefer to call it “birthing goals” because “birth plan” sounds a bit rigid. The only reason why I still refer to it as a “birth plan” is it’s the term that most people are familiar with and call this document.
I have seen some women be a bit too adamant with their birth plans. I like all women to understand that it’s not always possible to control every aspect and outcome of your labor and birth. You absolutely should have a say on how you want to give birth, but this is why women are encouraged to be flexible and open-minded when thinking about their birth experience. Hopefully, everything goes well, and that you get the exact birth that you have been wanting, but understanding that things can happen and that you have to be flexible with your “plan” is important.
Below, I’m am sharing my birth plan template that I use with all of my clients. Feel free to print it out and use it as a guide. I will warn you that it is quite lengthy – four pages to be exact – so please do not use this as your actual birth plan. Use it as a guide to creating your own. You want to keep your birth plan short and sweet since no one wants to review a novel before they start administering care to a laboring mama. The general rule for birth plans is to make it one page, front and back. This way, you will make sure that you are only listing the most important things to you.
I also want to mention that not all the options on my template will be available to everyone. It depends on where you have chosen to have your baby and the options that the care provider has available. Also, if you have complications during your pregnancy or high-risk pregnancy, some of these options might not be available. But again, this template should at least give you a place to start. Then you can print my birth plan worksheet and use it to note your preferences.
Let me know your thoughts on my birth plan template! Did you write a birth plan for your birth? Did it help you feel more prepared? I want to know!