If you're wondering how to build a birth plan, what to include and where to even start, read on. We will cover what a birth plan is and is not, how to decide what to include in your birth plan, and how to present it so it will actually get read.
What is a Birth Plan?
A birth plan is a document that outlines all of your birth choices in a organized way so that everyone on your birth team is clear about how you would like to see your birth go. Many people, including some providers, criticize birth plans for being inflexible or a "list of demands that will just lead to a c-section."
In reality, making a birth plan is simply a way for you to learn about the options that are available to you. There's no one way to do birth, so it's nice to have a concise document to communicate how you would like to do birth regardless of what twists and turns may occur.
Your birth plan is NOT meant to be a combative declaration of war against your provider. Instead, it is a respectful insistence that your choices be honored.
You can think about birth planning sort of like planning a wedding. It may not go exactly as planned, but if you don't plan it will almost certainly not go the way you hoped.
How to decide what to include in your birth plan
It may seem like a birth plan would need to be pages and pages long to get the point across regarding every single detail of your ideal birth. In fact, you want your birth plan to be one page. Try these tips for consolidating your lengthy birth plan to one page:
How to Present Your Birth Plan so it Gets Read
We've all heard stories about people making birth plans that never get looked at. Even if that happens to you, remember that part of making your birth plan is learning what your ideal birth looks like and what you'd like to happen if things need to change from that. Having a provider or nurse disregard your birth plan is definitely not ideal, but it just means you'll have to advocate for yourself since you know what your options are.
That said, remember to keep wording to the point, and exclude unnecessary comments/words. Your provider and nurses are likely working with several families at a time and need to be able to read your birth plan quickly in order to accomplish all of their tasks in a timely manner.
Here's just one example of how you could organize your birth plan.
The example of condensing what you're trying to say in the previous section uses terms that you might not have heard before, and that makes a lot of sense especially if this is your first baby. Taking a childbirth class can be very helpful to learn the lingo and those things you didn't know you didn't know! Here's some virtual classes.
Now you're ready to start writing your birth plan!
Great! Now you're ready to start writing your birth plan! There's a lot of information to go through and choices to make, but I know you can do it! Take it one section and one question at a time and you'll be done in no time.
If you're still feeling like you'd like a little more guidance, check out this birth planning class.
I'm a wife, mother of two, avid reader, doula, birth educator and an aspiring midwife. I grew up in Iowa, and my family and I moved to Columbus in 2019, and have decided to call it home.
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