Let’s talk about birth plans.
By: Barb Crone, Director of Midwifery
A birth plan is a just that: A plan. It is not a legal contract. It is how you would like things to happen.
Your birth plan is centered on what YOU would like to happen when you are in labor and the immediate period of delivery and postpartum.
Although planning is ideal, especially during a birth, we all know the best-laid plans can go awry.
Birth is a human experience and unexpected things can happen. Every human is different and every human responds uniquely when presented with a set of conditions.
It is important to plan for the worst and expect the best. I say…we should be cognizant of the potential for undesired things to happen! We should be able to respond to those situations, but we can’t always keep those things from happening.
In order to respond to unexpected conditions, we prepare ourselves through education. This includes:
- Reading materials and watching videos provided by experts
- Attending prenatal classes
- Jotting down any questions you may have for your clinician to discuss at your prenatal appointments
This is where the birth plan begins. The birth plan does not only cover labor, delivery and the immediate postpartum; it starts when you choose your clinician and the people you will see for your prenatal care. These are also the people who will help you through your labor and delivery.
I believe it is imperative you choose a clinician that can help you plan for your birth in the manner you see most fitting. You cannot wait until the day you are in labor to present a birth plan. On the first day of your prenatal care you need to start the conversation. You need to have confidence that your clinician and her/his team has your best interests at heart. This does not necessarily mean the clinicians can do everything you want on the day of labor. Your clinicians will work with you to make sure that you and your baby are healthy during labor and delivery.
Throughout your prenatal care you need to develop trust in your team of clinicians. At each visit, you should:
- Listen to what your clinical team is saying
- Ask questions and make sure your fully understand the next steps in your prenatal care
- Follow through with any instructions given to you from your clinical team
If you do not have the confidence in your team early in your prenatal care, it is imperative to find a new clinician that better matches your plan.
At the end of your prenatal care, we recommend sitting down with your clinician and writing out your birth plan for the big day. As long as you have been open and honest throughout your pregnancy, you can probably guess that nothing on your birth plan will be a surprise. Most likely, your team will have already integrated your wishes with their routing practices!
My number 1 suggestion is to be flexible and trust that your clinician is an expert in their field and will help you achieve the ultimate outcome for your birth plan: a healthy baby and a healthy momma!