Writing A Birth Plan

Planning a birth. An oxymoron, right? Right!

As with anything in life, try as we might to plan and predict the course of events, we cannot control certain forces of nature. But, we can think about how we would like things to go and how to handle the situation if they don’t go as planned.

In my past teaching experience, I have promised my Childbirth Ed students only ONE thing in the 30 hours I spend with them. My solitary promise is that something unexpected WILL unfold in their childbirth experience.

For example, that ‘something’ may be that they labor to 9 cm feeling only slight twinges and then arrive at the birthplace 30 minutes before welcoming baby into the world. That would certainly be unexpected!

While this scenario might be a pleasant surprise to some, other unexpected events may be more common, such as unplanned cesarean section after 34 hours of labor, or a baby who needs to spend time in the NICU immediately after birth.

In class, I commonly refer to Penny Simpkin’s statement,

One of the undeniable facts about labor is that you cannot consciously control your labor or your contractions. You can, however, control how you respond to them. In a sense, then, control in labor is a matter of controlling how you will respond to your labor, not controlling the labor itself.”

The same applies when creating a birth plan. As expecting parents, it is important to identify your preferences around the things you CAN control, and relinquish control over all the rest. This is the key to birth preparation. Prioritize your desires and envision how your birth plan may change should circumstances cause deviation from the ideal plan. Thus, we can more accurately call these well-laid “plans” birth wishes or birth preferences.

For our fellow Birth Professionals, please note: Focusing on creating a calm and comforting environment goes a long way for enhancing the proper hormone flow for productive contractions. Securing a supportive and encouraging team will help a mother feel secure in this uncharted territory. Knowing what is standard protocol at a birthing location will enable her to ask good questions and participate in true informed consent.

For our expecting parents and iBirth™App users: Start researching into your various preferences and options no later than the second trimester to ensure that you are in good alignment with your chosen place of birth. If you are reading this later than second trimester, do not fret… it’s never too late to make the right decision.

Some topics for an expecting mother to reflect on are listed below. The Tips & Lists section of the iBirth™ App is also full of essential ideas to discuss between expecting parents and providers.

People – Who does the mother want by her side and when?

Environment – What are her preferences for lighting, music? Will someone be videotaping or taking photos?

Upon Arrival – Does she have an opinion about receiving a routine IV?

Interventions – How does she feel about induced labor if it is recommended? Under what circumstances would her preferences change? If a cesarean section does occur, what can the team do to create a lovely experience?

Labor/Delivery – Does she want to be able to move around during labor? Does the facility support that preference? Does she want her partner to catch the baby?

Postpartum – Will she use a doula, a friend, or a family member for support and assistance? Will she nurse or bottlefeed? What kind of support does she want to have after the birth?

What are some helpful statements you can use when communicating preferences to the Physician or Midwifery team?

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