A birth plan is just that… a plan, a blueprint, of how you would ideally like your birth to go. Are you planning on having an epidural as soon as contractions start? Would you like to have a birth without an epidural? Are pain meds something that you feel are necessary to having your ideal birth? Are you anticipating not needing them? Are you thinking I don’t want them, but would like the option if it becomes necessary?
The answer to the questions isn’t as important as the thought that goes into answering them. The important thing about a birth plan is that it shows that you have thought about the birth of your baby and what you would or wouldn’t like to see happen. A birth plan should be a simple 1 page document highlighting what is most important to you. Longer than a page and people start to glaze over.
Birth plans are not set in stone. They are not a list of demands. They describe how you would like the birth to ideally go. The health and safety of both you and your baby is the primary concern for your providers. When writing a birth plan, keep this in mind. Being polite is usually a good thing. Remember that you attract more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. Most people don’t want to read a list of demands or unrealistic expectations. Starting off your birth plan with a paragraph of a few sentences in length thanking the staff and letting them know that these things are important to you, but not at the risk of your or your baby’s health. This will go a long way at setting the staff at ease.
Put the things that are pertinent to you in your birth plan. If your hospital has rooming-in with the baby as the standard, don’t write that you want rooming-in on your birth plan as that is a waste of everyone’s (especially your) time. I know that at our local hospital it is pretty standard to have an IV placed when you first get there. If you are not wanting one then writing that you don’t want one in your birth plan makes sense. You might even choose to request a hep lock or a saline lock.
A good thing about a birth plan is that it is something that you can take with you to your prenatal appointment and discuss it with your provider. In fact, you should discuss it with your provider. By discussing your birth plan with your provider, you can find out how your provider feels about the things that matter to you. In my last pregnancy it was important to me that the umbilical cord not be clamped immediately, but be allowed to stop pulsating before it was cut. In talking about this with my provider, I found out that she typically waits for it to stop pulsating. I was able to see that she and I were on the same page about that. It should also be discussed with your support team, your husband or partner, your mom, your doula, whoever you are planning on having at the birth. This way they can help support you in achieving as close to your ideal birth as possible.