Depending on your provider and birth location, birth plans are either welcomed and encouraged or overlooked and underappreciated. A birth plan is a wish list of birth preferences, an ideal snapshot of how you would like your birth to play out in the best possible way. It is put to paper so that your care providers can read it and understand your unique situation quickly and concisely and share it with others on your team as needed. It is not a list of demands or an absolute plan that must be fulfilled.
Birth plans have a poor reputation in some locations, possibly due to the idea that a birth plan is a list of demands or expectations. However, there are four reasons why you should still take the time to craft a birth plan or birth preferences list.
Reason 1 -Knowing your own Birth Expectations
The act of working through available birth options does take some time. However, the time it takes to review and understand your choices will help you and your partner to better understand what choices are available to you, your needs as you see them in birth, and plan for what your needs might be in labor. A birth plan should also cover flexible contingencies in the event of an emergency or unplanned outcome.
Reason 2 – Highlights Your Needs, Reason
A written birth plan can be handed to your team (doula, birth assistant, and provider) as an ideal way to concisely communicate what your wishes are. It can help your team to better understand how to support you in order to help you have the outcome you desire. It outlines your desires in both a normal birth as well as covering unexpected situations in case of a change of plans.
Reason 3 – Explains what is special about you and this birth
A birth plan shares with your nurses and support staff what is special about you and this birth. Do you have any allergies? A previous medical condition that could impact the way you labor or your needs? Current pregnancy complications or special needs?
Reason 4 – Helps Your Team Know How to Support You
A birth plan should not exceed one single side sheet of paper. Nurses seem to prefer short bullet points or short sentences which are easier to read and remember if the birth is quick or when reviewing the plan. For home birth, a birth plan is more house-specific so that the birth team can navigate your home easily while your in labor. No matter where your birth place is, taking the time to write a birth plan can help you to ensure the best possible outcome.