I’ve hard too many women say, “I don’t need a birth plan…I’m going to show up, get the epidural, and pop out a baby. What do I need a plan for?”
We make plans for the most mundane events in our lives…I don’t even go grocery shopping without a list! Yet many women are going into labor and delivery–an experience filled with significant choices and fraught with unpredictability and potential risk–completely unprepared.
Birth plans are important.
One, because they encourage you to mentally rehearse what you want for your birth before labor day comes.
A birth plan isn’t effective unless the preferences indicated are well researched and thoughtfully considered. If you want a natural birth, writing a birth plan is a good time to consider what techniques you plan to use for pain relief, which position you may want to use for delivery, and what your preferences are for an IV, fetal monitoring, or any other procedure that could inhibit movement.
Even if you anticipate getting an epidural, it’s also a good time to consider how you feel about post-delivery procedures, such as delayed cord clamping, who you’d like to cut the cord, circumcision, whether you want baby to sleep in the nursery or room-in, and whether or not you prefer newborn procedures to be performed in your presence (ie: Hepatitis B Vaccine, PKU Testing, etc.) or not at all.
Sharing your birth plan early with your provider can help you to determine how realistic your birth plan is so that you can plan and adjust accordingly. For example, you may include in your birth plan that you want to eat and drink during labor, but many hospitals prohibit the intake of any food and liquids. It’s better to know this before you’re in the throes of labor and dying for a drink of water…
And two, birth plans educate your labor team on your birthing preferences.
Remember, you’re not your midwife or OBs only patient, and if you’re opting for a hospital birth, you’ll be spending most of your time laboring with nurses you’ve never met before (you may even be laboring long enough to see a shift change or two).
They won’t know your plan unless YOU tell them!
Labor can be long, and active labor can be hectic, disorienting and unpredictable. The last thing you want to be doing is making decisions when you’re scared, hungry or tired. If you make a birth plan, you will already have made many of your important decisions and will be better prepared to work through deviations if they arise. Your birth plan will also keep you and your support staff on the same page.
So make a plan. Trust me, when labor day comes, you’ll be glad you did.
Be sure to check out all of the birth plan resources for more information on what to include in your birth plan and samples!