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  • Writer's pictureFFM

What is a Birth Plan?

Updated: Dec 2, 2023

What is a birth plan? Why do I need a birth plan? Do you have a birth plan template?

Bringing your baby into the world is an incredible journey filled with anticipation, excitement, and definitely some nervousness (at least there was for me!). As an expecting mom, you may have heard all about birth plans (sometimes called birth preferences) and wondered what they are all about. In this article, we will dive into what a birth plan is, its benefits, and why it's worth considering for your upcoming labor and delivery.

Birth plan template

Understanding a Birth Plan:

A birth plan is a document that outlines your preferences and desires for the labor and delivery process. Use this Birth Plan Template as a guide. It serves as a communication tool between you, your partner, your healthcare providers, and anyone else such as a doula or other support people. While it's important to remember that birth can be unpredictable, having a birth plan can help you feel more empowered and informed about the choices available to you.

Benefits of Creating a Birth Plan:

1. Communication and Collaboration: A birth plan encourages open dialogue with your healthcare team. By discussing your preferences in advance, or at least providing your birth plan sheet when you arrive to the hospital, you can establish a collaborative relationship, ensuring that everyone is on the same page regarding your desires for your birth experience.

2. Personalized Care: Your birth plan allows you to express your own unique needs and desires. It helps your healthcare providers understand your preferences for pain management, labor positions, and other aspects of the birthing process. This personalized approach can enhance your overall satisfaction with the experience. For me personally, I had a lot of anxiety around hospital settings, so I asked to limit any tools and limit the amount of doctors in the room with me. This really helped my doctor to understand the anxiety I had so that she could try to make me feel as comfortable as possible.

3. Decision-Making Empowerment: Creating a birth plan encourages you to research and educate yourself about various options available during labor and delivery. It empowers you to make informed decisions that align with your values and desires, promoting a sense of control and confidence during this transformative time.

What to Include in Your Birth Plan:

1. Labor Preferences: Outline your preferences for the entire labor process, such as your desired environment (lights on/off, music on/off, number of people/doctors in the room), and any specific comfort measures you would like to utilize (shower, massage, aromatherapy, etc.)

2. Pain Management Options: Discuss your preferences for pain relief methods, such as natural techniques (breathing exercises, hydrotherapy) or medical interventions (epidural, IV medications, nitrous oxide). Remember to research the pros and cons of each option to make an informed decision. I wanted to have an unmedicated birth, so one item I wrote on my birth plan was to not be asked if I wanted an epidural or any pain medication. I also did not want to be asked how much "pain" I was in during my labor.

3. Delivery Preferences: Consider your preferences for birthing positions (hands and knees, side-lying, on your back, squatted position, etc.), the use of birthing aids (birthing ball, peanut ball, squat bar), and whether you would like to have a mirror available to watch the birth. Of course, you will probably not have everything go according to plan, but it helps to visualize your birth and anticipate what you would like to do if possible.

4. Post-Delivery Wishes: Include your preferences for immediate skin-to-skin contact, delayed cord clamping, whether you will receive pitocin, first vaccines for baby, and whether you plan to breastfeed or bottle-feed. I am not a doctor, so please consult your own physician to make these important personal decisions.

5. Unexpected Scenarios: While birth can be unpredictable, it's essential to consider alternative plans in case of unforeseen circumstances. Discuss your preferences for interventions like cesarean sections or assisted deliveries (forceps, vacuum extraction) if the need arises. I know no one wants to think about these unexpected scenarios, but the more research and preparation you do ahead of time, the more informed you will be to make a decision in the moment if needed.

A birth plan is a valuable tool that allows you to express your desires and preferences for your labor and delivery experience. While it's important to remain flexible, having a birth plan can help you feel more in control and informed about the choices available to you. Remember to discuss your birth plan with your healthcare provider, as they can provide guidance and ensure that your wishes align with the safest options for you and your baby.

After you've completed your birth plan, add a few printed copies to your hospital bag. For more ideas of what to pack in your hospital bag, visit my Hospital Bag Checklist post and download our Hospital Bag Checklist to keep yourself on track.

Embrace this exciting journey, and may your birth experience be filled with joy, love, and empowerment!

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