Birth plans

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You’ve dreamed about the moment you get to hold your little one for the first time. Perhaps you’ve envisioned the entire process of childbirth from contractions to delivery. Maybe you’ve been so distracted by the pregnancy and the impending arrival of your newborn that you haven’t even thought about delivery. Wherever you are on the spectrum, it is wise to have a pre-established birth plan to make sure your childbirth wishes are as closely followed as possible.

What is a birth plan and why do you need one?

Some people think having a birth plan sounds too new-agey for them, or too controlling – they feel like they are trying to tell their caretakers how to do their jobs. A birth plan is a written guide for your medical professionals ... that helps articulate your desires for the delivery ...

A birth plan isn’t a legal document ... It is something that can be as simple as a handwritten list of instructions and desires ...

What goes into a birth plan?

A birth plan should include your vision for how you want the birth to go. It can include things like wanting to be able to walk during labor versus being restricted to bed, or when and if you want to receive pain medication and what type ... It can include directions as to who to allow into your delivery room – you want your partner there, but not your overly enthusiastic second cousin once removed. You can also include requests, such as who you want to cut the umbilical cord ...

Birth plans are a great idea for communicating to your care providers the sort of care that you would like for your labour and birth. It helps your care providers to understand exactly the sort of care you would like to have so that they can do their best to help you to achieve the experience that you want to have. It's best if birth plans are written with flexibility in mind. No birth ever goes strictly to plan, and sometimes there is a valid reason to depart from the birth plan, including your change of preference at the time of your labour and birth. Some families feel that because they have a birth plan, it will protect them from certain interventions or guarantee a certain birth experience. But, things happen in birth. Sometimes things work out exactly how you want them to, but sometimes labour is a little longer, or a little shorter, sometimes women become exhausted, sometimes pregnancy lasts a bit longer than we expect – or a bit shorter than we expect … or blood pressure plays up … I am sure you understand my point. There are certainly things that you can do to lower your risk of certain complications or interventions, but you cannot really "plan" a birth so I think the wording gets confusing. All of that said, I encourage all of my clients to write a birth plan. It gives women a sense of ownership over their experience.