BIRTH PLAN 101: or, how to set yourself up for success in labor & delivery
If you’re pregnant, supporting someone who is pregnant, or already care for young children, you’re probably familiar with the term “birth plan.” There is a LOT of information to be had regarding the “best birth plan,” how to ensure your providers follow it to the letter, and what to do if everything goes wrong.
But what exactly is a birth plan, how do you make one, and why the heck do you need one, anyway?
A birth plan lets your providers/support people know:
- Where you want to birth
- How you want to birth
- What you want immediately postpartum
A birth plan does NOT:
- Guarantee your birth experience will go exactly as planned
- Legally bind anyone/thing
- Have to be rigid
So how do you make a birth plan?
1. Know your options
Do you know what comfort measures are, and which ones will be available to you at your place of birth? What are standard practices at the hospital/birth center, and can you say no to any of them? (The answer is usually yes!) How many people are allowed in the labor room? What are the rules regarding visitors/older siblings? Can you eat or drink during labor?
There is a lot of information to gather, but sitting down with your doula or other labor support person and writing a list of the things you want is a great way to start a birth plan.
2. Keep it simple
There’s no need to be verbose when writing your birth plan. A list of bullet points works well, and will make it easier for care providers and support people to reference while you’re in labor.
3. Be flexible
In a perfect world, every birthing person would have the experience they dream of, but unfortunately emergencies or just life in general can surprise us during labor, so it’s a good idea to have contingency plans. If you don’t have a birthing pool available, you can labor in the shower. Can’t have twelve people in the OR during your Cesarean? Ask if the surgeon will allow you an extra support person. Flexibility written into the plan will allow for satisfaction during the birthing process, and keeping your options open will help keep you focused on birthing that baby!
Did you use a birth plan? What are some other tips for pregnant people you would share?