Coming to your care provider or place of birth with a birth plan in hand isn’t as uncommon as it once was 10-15 years ago. You even find auto-generating birth plans and outlines all over the internet. In reality, most birth plans (or wishes or desires, however you word it) are pretty similar. Most women want to be left to labor & birth with the least amount of intervention, with the people they feel most close to and will give the most support, and to keep their babies close after the birth. Pretty simple, right?
That being said there are still care providers who scoff & huff at the idea of planning or asking for anything at birth. I was on a hospital tour with a client recently where the nurse actually laughed & said, “Good Luck with that!” It took us all by surprise, like, did we hear her correctly?
There are a few ways to help your birth plan be read by the hospital staff on duty when you come in for your birth.
- Double check your content. Leave out things like “I’d like to labor at home as long as possible.” You’re already left your home so you’ve likely already done this. Or “I’d like to discuss induction methods if I am to have a scheduled induction of labor.” This is a conversation you are more likely to have during an appointment with your provider and should be on a separate list to discuss with your provider. Also, when you are not birthing at home you will need to take into account what is available to you at the birthing facility you’ve chosen. You can’t ask to labor in a tub if the facility doesn’t have tubs for laboring. Doing this kind of editing will help the next point.
- Keep your plan as short as possible. Write out what you feel are the the most important points. This way you can try to keep your plan to a single page. The less there is to read the more likely the staff will be willing to read it.
- Ensure you aren’t repeating yourself through the document.
- Try to keep your plan organized. If the person reading it doesn’t jump from how you’d like to labor to delaying initial immunizations, to how you’d like to push, they will be more likely to read and follow through with your wishes.
- Consider writing separate plans for a cesarean birth, care for baby while in the hospital for the postpartum period or in the event the baby’s health is compromised.
So why bother writing a plan if no one will read it? Well, someone will read it, but the most important reason to write it out is that it creates a dialog between you, your partner, your doula, & your care providers. You can hash out what policies you can’t get around at your birthing facility and which might have a little wiggle room. There may be something you hadn’t thought about before that may change your thoughts on a procedure or practice. You and your partner may find that you don’t see eye to eye on a particular event, procedure or policy. This gives you time to talk about and research these things well before they might become a reality. No, you can’t predict the outcome of birth, but you can talk about the many facets & be prepared for most eventualities so that in the moment you feel confident to discuss and move on to the next step.