Having a birth plan is a growing desire for pregnant women. First introduced in the 1980s due to increased medical births, birth plans have been a source for many women to relay their preferences during and around the time of childbirth. If you choose to have a written plan in place, take some time in the weeks before your baby arrives to decide what’s important to you in your birthing experience. Below I will share different kinds of birthing plans, important elements to consider and conclude with the need to have flexible expectations around delivery.
What is a birth plan and what does it look like?
A birth plan is written by a pregnant woman that outlines her preferences for labor, birth, postpartum care, and baby care. Some women’s birth plans simply include their preferences for labor and delivery.
Here are a few birth plans to check out:
- IHC Birthing Plan
- IHC Mother’s Choice Birth Plan
- Grab a paper and pen to create your own using these ideas!
Important Elements to Consider
Birth plans allow pregnant women to understand what options are available to them during delivery and postpartum care. The research found in, “Evolution of the Birthplan” shares, “Being well-informed increases expectant parents’ self-confidence and ability to achieve their desires.” If you decide you want a written birth plan, be sure to keep it concise. A birth plan should not be pages and pages long. Keeping it on the shorter side will make it easier for you to relay your desires to those that will be assisting.
Additionally, the education you gain leading up to your delivery through webinars, birthing classes, and other trusted sources, will aid you in selecting what’s important to you during your hospital stay.
Don’t be afraid to speak up. In a study of 825 women, those who felt in control during delivery were consistently associated with positive psychological outcomes. Depending on how the baby arrives, you may have time to share your birth plan with your nurse or midwife. If not, speak to the person you take to the hospital ahead of time. Whether you take a spouse, parent, or another trusted companion, they are your advocate! Your birthing desires should be clear to them so they can relay your preferences to the medical staff. If you did bring a birthing plan to the delivery, don’t wait to be asked if you have one! If it’s important to you, make it a point to share it upon getting situated.
Have Realistic and Flexible Expectations
Whether you desire an all-natural birth, vaginal delivery, delayed cord cut, or have other expectations, remember to be realistic and flexible. You can’t predict exactly what will happen. A birth plan is not a binding agreement, it is a guideline. Just because you said you wanted a tub at the hospital to birth your baby in, does not mean one will be available when you go.
After you deliver your baby, and in the months following, you may look back and recognize your birth plan wasn’t followed exactly how you had hoped, and that’s okay! Be patient with yourself and your body as you look back on the delivery day.