In my last post, I discussed WHY you need a Birth Plan, no matter what "kind" of mama you are. Hopefully, that second ever doula-blog post of mine was so profound, it changed your mind completely about the idea! :P Now you're thinking (in addition to, "Wow, doulas rock! This is my favorite blog of all time!"), "Alright, fine, I need a Birth Plan. But what do I even put on it? What should it look like??" Lucky for you, here comes Part Two.
First of all, remember what we decided last time. This is not - dun dun dunnnnn - THE. PLAN. This is simply,
"The Official List of Thoughtfully Considered Birth Preferences for a Mother and Partner Who Want Nothing but the Best for Their Baby."
We're not on a power trip here. This is simply about doing your research and making your own choices.
Now, there is no right or wrong way to format your "Official List of Thoughtfully Considered Birth Preferences for a Mother and Partner Who Want Nothing but the Best for Their Baby." Bullet points and short, direct statements are usually easiest for hospital staff to follow. If you prefer to write in paragraph form that is fine, but be sure to underline or bold the really important terms. Your doctor may read the whole thing ahead of time, but hospital staff will likely just skim it if they find it too wordy.
Now you think, "Easy enough. Now what do I put on the thing?"
This again is up to you, with no right or wrong answer. You can be as specific as you like, or include only the top five or ten things that are REALLY important to you. Below is a list of suggested topics. It is not necessary to include all of these things if they are simply not important to you, or if you would prefer to strictly follow your doctor’s advice on certain things, and therefore feel no need to specify a preference. I encourage you as you create your Birth Plan, to find research regarding evidence based practice in each of these areas, cast others’ opinions aside, and make these decisions based solely on what feels right for your baby’s birth.
Common Categories for Written Birth Plans
Main Goals/Areas of Importance
Preferences for Baby
Again, this list is just intended to get your wheels turning and get your Birth Plan started. As you begin to research some of the birthing options listed here, you will likely find many more things that you would like to include. I would encourage you to do so. Each of us is unique as a woman and mother. Our babies are each unique and wonderful, and no two births are the same. Having a Birth Plan does not mean that your labor will go "perfectly." In fact, I can almost guarantee that there will be a few snags. But hey, that's parenthood! For the rest of your baby's life you will be researching, questioning, unlearning and relearning everything you ever thought you knew, just so that you can do the very best thing for your very best baby.
Make a Birth Plan.
You and that baby are worth it.
Birth Plans get a bad rap, if you ask me. Many people hear the term and cringe or roll their eyes. The argument against Birth Plans isn’t a bad one, I suppose:
“Birth never goes according to plan anyway!”
I can’t say that isn’t true. Childbirth has natural patterns, certainly, but each baby born is unique and so shall be his entrance. Writing a Birth Plan shouldn’t be a mother’s way of saying,
“This IS how my birth will be!” or
“Everything MUST go this way!” or
"My birth, MY BIRTH! RARR! Stomp, stomp!!"
(Though I can't say I'd discourage any mother from RARRing or stomping as she sees fit!)
If you're not a RARRer or a stomper though, that doesn't mean that Birth Plans aren't for moms like you. Birth Plans aren't for a certain kind of mom. In fact, writing a Birth Plan isn't really for the sake of having Birth Plan at all! Rather, putting together a Birth Plan is about the process of thoughtfully considering all the “what-if”s.
Let me say that again. Writing a Birth Plan isn't about having a Birth Plan. It's about the process. The thinking. The thinking ahead, thinking clearly, thinking rationally... thinking with facts at your fingertips.
There will be a lot of decisions made on the day of your baby’s birth, and for much of it, you will not be thinking as clearly as you are right now. In many ways, you will not even be the same person! Your birthing hormones will be flooding your body and your mind, and you will likely not want to be bothered with a bunch of mumbo-jumbo concerning membrane rupture, delayed cord clamping, or the risks vs. benefits of an epidural. And who could blame you? The heat of the moment is never the best time to make important decisions. So let’s get over that “oh, she’s one of those moms with a Birth Plan” mentality already and call this what it is:
"The Official List of Thoughtfully Considered Birth Preferences for a Mother and Partner Who Want Nothing but the Best for Their Baby"
Too long? Fine. We’ll work on the title.
Think about it.
[Stay tuned for "Birth Plans, Part 2: HOW?" coming soon!]