Birth Plan or Birth Goals?
Updated: Aug 22, 2019
Writing a birth plan can be a very overwhelming task for women & their partner. There's a lot of pressure on making the decisions of what they want their birth to be like, what's too much to include, what if they don't put enough details, etc. One of the ways Doulas play a huge role when hired for labor/birth support is that they sit down with you during the prenatal visit and help you create the birth plan. We can help determine what's important and what to leave out and support you in what you choose to do for your labor/birth.
I'm going to give you some practical tidbits & advice for writing your birth plan/goals to ensure the best possible outcome for your birth experience!
1. It shouldn't be more than page long. I say this because if it is longer than a page, then chances are you are including things that may not be necessary. Be sure to stick with what you definitely want/don't want during each phase of labor but being so specific to include the hour # or cm in dilation is unnecessary. I read in a book that the one thing that is predictable about labor, is that it's unpredictable. We cannot include every single detail of how our "ideal" birth will play out because most likely, that's not what will happen.
2. Don't include basic medical attention/needs that will offend the medical professionals on staff. Remember, you are writing this birth plan to give to the nursing staff who will be working with you just as much as the physician. Nurses are the ones in the trenches with you, taking care of you and ultimately making the best decisions for you to have the best care & birth experience possible. How would it feel to them if a patient came in and tried to tell them how to do their job and when to do it? Just something to think about...
3. Make sure your wishes are acceptable to physician. Before officially "writing" a birth plan you should be sure to have a conversation with your medical provider about your wishes/goals for labor. Don't expect that your doctor will provide every single thing you wish for, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes there are certain protocols they have to follow in order keep the mom and baby safe.
4. Have a code word. I speak this directly to women who intentionally want to have an unmedicated birth or if you are going TRY your very best to have an unmedicated birth. There might come a point in the labor that you want to change your mind about receiving medications. Women start to change their minds because the labor intensifies and so having a code word to say "hey I'm serious about this- get me the drugs" is a nice way to let your partner and/or Doula know that you have genuinely changed your mind about medication.
5. Go in with the expectation that everything will not go according to "plan." Part of the reason why I feel like women get so incredibly anxious and terrified of childbirth is because of the unknown. You don't know what contractions are going to feel like, you don't know how well you will handle the pain, you don't know how long you'll be in labor, etc. That can be very tough emotionally. I just think it's important that you remember that your birth"plan" is a list of our wishes/goals for labor. Not everything will go according to plan but that doesn't make it any less wonderful of an experience.
In my Childbirth Education Classes that I will start hosting/teaching this fall, I will provide a template to all my attendees to help them create a simple and easy birth plan!
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