Posted 26 Apr 2023
We seem to plan and prepare for the major events in our lives. Weddings, Graduations, Travel, and Exams are all examples of experiences where we know the benefits of preparation and planning in order to feel more prepared, empowered and confident as we surrender to the unfolding of the day. Yet, when it comes to our birth we are told to just wing it and take the day as it comes. Yes, when it comes to giving birth, there are many unknowns and variables that can make the experience unpredictable. What you can absolutely prepare for is understanding the different pathways your birth could take and the possible decisions you may have to make along the way, alongside knowing the risks/benefits of those decisions. This is why many expectant parents choose to create a birth plan. A birth plan is a written document that outlines the summary of your informed decisions for labour and birth.
It can include everything from:
- Pain management options
- Who will be present in the delivery room
- How you will be protecting the golden hours
- Initiating breastfeeding/breast crawl
- Placenta delivery
- Delayed cord clamping
- What you consent and do not consent to plus more.
Some people may think that a birth plan is unnecessary or unrealistic. After all, giving birth is an unpredictable process, and it’s impossible to know exactly what will happen. However, there are many reasons why a birth plan is your best friend during your labour and birth.
1: A Birth Plan Helps You Communicate Your Informed Decisions
Creating a birth plan gives you an opportunity to prepare and be well-informed about the possible pathways your birth may take and clearly communicate your informed decisions and wishes to your caregiver team. By putting your decisions in writing, you can avoid misunderstandings and ensure that everyone involved in your care is on the same page.
For example: “I would like delayed cord clamping” vs “ The umbilical cord is only to be clamped and cut when it is white, limp and has stopped pulsating”. The difference between the two statements is that policy can vary between hospitals on what is considered the time frame for delayed cord-clamping and therefore leaves room for miscommunication. Providing clear language in writing helps avoid misunderstandings.
2: A Birth Plan puts you back in Charge of your Birth
One of the biggest benefits of creating a birth plan is that it puts you back in the driver’s seat. I tell my clients over and over again you are not a patient you are a client! Pregnancy and childbirth can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to feel like everything is out of your hands. By creating a birth plan through doing research and having the necessary conversations with your caregiver team, you are taking an active role in your care and making informed decisions. In the absence of an emergency, your consent is required. Creating a birth plan means you are prepared for what you do and do not consent to and can navigate the decision-making process with ease and less overwhelm.
3: A Birth Plan Helps You Prepare for Different Scenarios
While it’s impossible to predict exactly how your labour and birth will go, a birth plan can help you prepare for different scenarios. For example, if you’re planning for a natural childbirth you can add the summary of your informed decisions for a natural birth alongside your informed decisions if a caesarean were to occur. Consider this your contingency plan. By discussing different possibilities and options with your healthcare provider and including them in your plan, you’ll be better prepared for whatever pathway your birth may take.
4: A Birth Plan Helps Your Healthcare Provider Understand Your Priorities
Your Caregiver team wants to make sure that you have a safe and healthy delivery. However, they may not know your specific priorities, non-negotiables and values unless you communicate them. By creating a birth plan, you can help your caregivers understand what’s most important to you and provide an even deeper level of care. A Birth Plan is a bridge that helps facilitate relationships and close the gap of communication between both parties.
For example, if you’re wanting medication-free birth but you’re open to considering pain management options if necessary on the day, you can include this in your plan and say “I am aiming for a medication-free birth. I do not want to be offered medication and only I will request for medication if necessary”.. By being clear about your priorities, you can help your caregivers support you in a way that means most to you.
5: A Birth Plan Can Help You Advocate for Yourself
Giving birth can be an intense and emotional experience, and it’s not always easy to speak up for yourself in the moment. However, if you have a birth plan, you’ll have a written document that outlines your decisions and priorities. This can help you advocate for yourself and ensure that you are respected during the birth process.
For example, if you’re in the middle of labour and you’re being offered pain medication that you don’t want, you can refer back to your birth plan and remind your caregivers that they are not to offer and you will ask if necessary.
6: A Birth Plan Can Help You Make Informed Decisions
Creating a birth plan requires you to do research about your labour and delivery and the different possible interventions along the way. This process can help you learn more about the different options available to you and the potential risks and benefits of each. It allows you to look at different reputable sources and also facilitates you to have the necessary and important discussions with your partner, family and caregiver team. This means your choices aren’t being made on the spot in an emotional state without seeing the possible consequences but are well thought out and an informed decision decreases the likelihood of regret and birth trauma.
7: A Birth Plan Can Help You and Your Partner Feel More Prepared
If you’re giving birth for the first time, it’s natural to feel a sense of uncertainty and anxiety about the process. By creating a birth plan, you and your partner can feel more prepared and confident going into the birth experience together. When you create a birth plan together, you can discuss your preferences and priorities as a team. This can help your partner feel more involved in the process and better equipped to know how to support and advocate for you and your baby during labour and delivery.
8: A Birth Plan Can Help You Remember Important Details
You are busy giving birth Mama! It’s easy to forget important details when you are in an experience that is naturally calling you to be elsewhere other than in your head and in a heightened emotional experience. By creating a birth plan, you’ll have a written document that you can refer to during the birth process that takes all that worry off your plate. You and your partner don’t need to remember it all because you have prepared ahead and it is all in your birth plan.
Your healthcare provider will also have a copy of your birth plan in your file, which can help them remember important details about your preferences and priorities. I would also recommend bringing along multiple copies with you on the day and your Birth Partner will run the caregiver team through the Birth plan making them aware of your important informed decisions.
9: A Birth Plan Can Help You Feel More Empowered
Creating a birth plan is a proactive step that can help you feel more empowered and confident going into the birth experience. By taking an active role in your care and advocating for your decisions and priorities, you can feel more in charge of the process.
This can be especially important for people who have experienced trauma or feel anxious about giving birth. By creating a birth plan, you can take steps to help yourself feel more comfortable and supported during labour and birth.
10: A Birth Plan Can Help You Reflect on Your Birth Experience
After the birth of your little one, it’s helpful to alongside a trusted professional reflect, debrief and process your birthing experience as you integrate this monumental transformation you have been through. You can consider what went well and what you would do differently next time. Your birth plan can be a helpful reference point for this reflection.
By reviewing your birth plan and comparing it to what occurred during your birth, you can gain insight into what worked well and what you might want to do differently if you choose to birth again..
In conclusion, a birth plan is a powerful tool to help you feel more empowered, feel supported, communicate your informed decisions, and advocate for yourself and your baby during labour and birth. By taking the time to create a birth plan, you can better prepare for different scenarios, make informed decisions about your care, and feel more empowered and confident going into your birth experience.
Ready to navigate your birthing journey with confidence and clarity?
Book a Birth Mapping session today and let us guide you through creating a roadmap for a fulfilling birth experience. Don’t let uncertainty hold you back – take charge of your birth story and create a birth plan that is in alignment with the positive birth experience you deserve! Contact Here