Do You Really Need a Birth Plan?

Now days, you’re hearing the term birth plan more and more. You’re already trying to plan for so much; and this is one more daunting task that—along with the middle of the night bathroom breaks—is keeping you up at night. So, what exactly is a birth plan and do you really need one? And how extensive does it need to be, anyway?

A birth plan is a document that tells your medical team your preferences for your labor and postpartum. You’ll want to discuss these preferences and expectations with your doctor beforehand, but it’s very useful to document them so that any new team members can be up to speed and your team can be refreshed on the day of your delivery. It’s also good for you, because it helps remind you of what you deemed most important prior to going into labor. Once labor sets in, we women sometimes forget about our preferences and then feel guilty after we’ve given birth because we’ve altered our wishes in the heat of the moment. A birth plan can help mitigate any disappointments. It’s not necessarily a must-have, but it can be helpful to your medical team and to you.

Birth plans can be extensive and detailed and they can be short and to-the-point. It really depends on your personality and how much you feel you need to go into detail for your medical team. I planned on having a home birth and knew that if there were any complications, I would transfer to a nearby hospital. I decided to draft up a quick bullet-point plan that would refresh my midwives memory and also give a hospital staff a quick rundown of my desires. Here’s what my birth plan looked like. My list was arranged in order of importance to me.

• Have a healthy baby
• Have a healthy mom
• Never be separated from my baby
• Remain together with my husband
• Avoid labor augmentation
• Avoid labor induction
• Avoid C-section
• Avoid internal fetal monitoring
• Choose our birthing position
• Delay cord clamping
• Not be offered pain medication
• Have freedom of movement
• Avoid frequent vaginal examinations
• Have access to a shower/bath
• Have option to eat/drink

Above is as simple as my birth plan was and though it was not near as extensive as other women’s plans, it gave me peace of mind to know that I had my preferences documented and that I, myself, knew what I wanted out of my labor and birthing experience.

By Holly M.
BabyChatter Contributor