Let us start out by saying this: you do not need to have a physical birth plan. I don’t want anyone to feel pressured into thinking that it is a necessity. You do need to have an idea of what you want and the ability to openly communicate it with your care provider. As doulas we can help you bridge the communication gap between you and your care provider. That being said, birth plans are increasing in popularity and these are our top three tips for what not to do when writing your birth plan:
1) Don’t write something a million pages long!
They are not research papers. Your birth plan does not need to be 25 pages long with citations and works cited at the end. One page should suffice for your birth, and if you can’t fit it on the first, then a second page with your plans for your baby (example: breast or bottle, bathing your newborn, or pacifier usage). There is a very good reason we are suggesting to keep it short and sweet. It will increase that chances of your doctor and the nurses actually reading and receiving your birth plan. Bullet points work out awesome!
2) Don’t be closed minded or inflexible
A birth plan is a living document. Keep your mind open and know that sometimes the plan can change--whether that be by choice or by medical emergency. A little flexibility can go a long way and labor is very unpredictable! We've seen many births and serviced many families. No two births are ever the same. Make a list of things you want to happen in your birth. Then pick your top 5 most important items out of that list. Make those 5 things be your main "goals" and focus (for example immediate skin to skin contact or delayed cord clamping). Communicate those 5 desires with your care provider and have your birth partner remind the staff at your birthing place of those 5 things.
3) Don’t send over a list of demands
Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s HOW you say it! If you absolutely do not want something like… pitocin for example, It will be much more received if your birth plan says “I prefer to labor naturally, without the use of pitocin” as opposed to “I refuse to have/do not want to have pitocin during my labor”. These two sentences are in essence saying the same thing, but the first sentence will be received better by your care provider and the staff at your birthing place. Try to to switch the "do nots" and "will nots" to be positive phrases such as, "I prefer" or "I'd like to". Have the focus of the sentence be on what you want and not what you don't want.
Birth plans are great and there are tons of things to research and consider when putting yours together. If you are a birth client with Loving Birth Services, we would be more then happy to look over your birth plan for you. Happy birth planning!
Brought to you by Loving Birth Services: Philadelphia Doulas, South Jersey Doulas, Central Jersey Doulas & Delaware Doulas