What is a Birth Plan?
Whether you are planning a natural (no medication) or a medically assisted (epidural) birth, a birth plan is a great way to ensure that your intentions and wishes are being met before, during and after your birth experience. A Birth Plan is a document that you (and your partner) write before your labor process as to advise your Doctor, Midwife, hospital staff, friends and family of what your specific preferences are surrounding your birth experience. This is especially important while you are in active labor as you may not be able to fully express what you need.
The labor process and the inevitability of giving birth can often times be an overwhelming and nerve racking experience for new and experienced moms alike. It can be important to have a clear goal or intention in your mind going into your birth process. Sometimes well-meaning family and friends may try to sway your decisions by relaying personal birth experiences. This information or advice may alarm or confuse you into believing that you have not thought through your birth plan thoroughly enough. In those scenarios, it may be very valuable to present the people around you with your detailed birth plan so they are educated on your wants and wishes.
Making a birth plan can also be an empowering decision as it can allow you to control where, when and how your personal birth experience plays out.
There are many variables to consider during the transition from labor to delivery. The hospital or birthing center may offer their own birthing plan for expectant parents which may include their specific policies and procedures. Your personal plan may be helpful in guiding discussions with your health care providers to ensure your needs are considered too. If your wants and wishes are documented there will be a lesser likelihood of deviation-unless something unforeseen occurs.
A birth plan can be as elaborate or simple as you want it to be. An elaborate birth plan could include every detail including what could happen before, during and after the birth. A simple plan may just include who you would like to have in the room while you are delivering and your specific pharmaceutical choices-if any. Another great resource for information regarding birth plans is to participate in a prenatal class. A well informed prenatal teacher can help to navigate your birth experience with helpful tips and examples.
While some women choose to have a detailed birth plan, other women may choose to not have a plan at all. These women opt to “go with the flow” and have their experience unfold naturally. Some believe this creates a more organic birth experience, by not placing too much emphasis on the details, we allow ourselves the beauty of being in the moment.
Each Momma has completely different wants and needs when it comes to their birth experience and the most important thing is to make sure they feel comfortable and confident in whatever decisions they make.
The three most important things to remember regarding your birth plan are:
- Be open and flexible about your birth plan. Sometimes our intentions or ideas about how we want something to happen do not always unfold as we want them to.
- Try to keep your birth plan as simple as possible. The more complicated the plan, the less deviation or flexibility you will have.
- Change will happen within your birth plan. Change is ok! Just know that it is perfectly normal to feel frustrated when things do not go the way you want.
Ultimately, no matter what happens during your birth experience try to focus on the big picture: a healthy and happy Momma and baby.
If you would like some more information on birth plans, or would like to see an example of one www.babycenter.com have some great resources for expectant mommas.
Karly Lynn C.H.N.