Writing Your Own Birth “Plan”
A birth plan has more than one purpose. It begins as a value clarification exercise, then becomes a communication tool with your care provider and ultimately a guide of needs and desires during labor, delivery and postpartum. Even if your birth location does not ask for birth plans, it is a good idea to write one for your own benefit.
Clarifying your needs, wants and desires. Here are the Birth Menu of Options and Assessing Your Feelings we use in class to begin the value clarification process. The birth menu is most helpful when you begin by crossing out what you are not interested in, highlighting the items you know you want and circling what you need to research. The AYF worksheet is for you and your husband/partner/non-doula labor support person to go over together to ensure you are on the same page and open up conversation. Doing this prior to 35 weeks of pregnancy gives you more time to coordinate with your care provider or birth location. If you have a doula or are taking a childbirth class, she/he can help you in this part of the process as well.
Write down in order of labor, delivery, immediate postpartum and in case of cesarean needs and desires. Your plan really needs to be within one typed page for easy reading and digesting by care provider and staff. The only items that must be listed are care options that are outside of usual practices, protocols or standing orders. Here is the Sample Low Intervention Birth Plan we use to help you see a finished format and types of pertinent information that may be necessary to list.
Take your written plan into your care provider. This is a conversation starter, a beginning, a partnering tool.
As I encouraged above, early to mid 3rd trimester gives you more flexibility in communicating with your provider and setting your plan in motion. It also gives you opportunity to change providers or birth location if you cannot reach a comfortable agreement.
Make any changes.Finalize. Print out final copy. Give one to care provider, have one in your bag for labor and birth, give one to doula (if you hired one). Though this is not a binding or legal agreement it can go a long way toward the type of care and birth you want.
Gestate peacefully until labor begins!