Why having a Birth Plan is Essential to a Successful Labor Experience

Writing the Best Birth Plan for You

Recently, many women and their care providers have embraced the concept of a birth plan, a document that outlines an overview of each mother’s desires and important beliefs regarding her upcoming delivery. With her care provider’s help, each mother-to-be has the means to create a simple but effective medium by which to convey her wishes during a time when reciting a list of wants and needs may not feasible. In addition, any other care providers (such as nurses) who may not have had the opportunity to talk with the mother before the delivery about her care options will have a quick and handy reference they can utilize to best support the laboring mom.

Although writing a birth plan sounds like a daunting enterprise, it doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming. A few simple tips and reminders can help make the process more streamlined and less intimidating:

Keep it concise. This does not mean your birth plan will necessarily be short; the length is up to you. But with so many issues to address regarding your labor, delivery, and postpartum care (both yours and the baby’s), it’s best to make each section of your plan as information-dense and easy-to-read as possible. Short, bulleted statements such as “I would prefer to have my partner present during my labor” are most helpful, and easiest for a care provider to scan quickly.

Begin your birth plan early. It may take some time for you to determine exactly what your desires and beliefs are, particularly if you’re a first-time mom. It’s possible that you may change your mind on certain issues during your pregnancy, at which time your birth plan can be revised. By starting the process of creating your plan at least a few months before your due date, you’ll also afford yourself more opportunity to research your birth options.

Be flexible. Flexibility is of vital importance when considering anything to do with labor and delivery. No matter how well we may plan, it’s prudent to expect the unexpected. With that in mind, allow yourself to brainstorm a “Plan B” for each of your most crucial birth scenarios. For instance, if you wish to have a vaginal birth, keep in mind that a Cesarean section could become necessary, and don’t hesitate to provide at least a minimal outline of your wishes for that procedure.

Always consider your ultimate goal-a healthy mom and baby. Birth matters, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. But your birth experience may suffer if you get bogged down in details. At the end of the day, the main concern for you and your care provider is a mom and baby who are physically and mentally well. As a result, it’s vital that you evaluate which parts of your birth plan you believe will best facilitate a safe and peaceful experience for you and your baby, and concentrate the bulk of your energy on those areas.

Remember, a birth plan is just that: a plan. However, the knowledge that your birth may not go precisely according to plan doesn’t have to be viewed as negative; instead, it can be used to empower you and keep you from becoming a bystander in your own delivery. With a bit of thought and mutual effort between you and your care provider, your birth plan can provide a wonderful tool to enhance the positive aspects of giving birth, and minimize the potentially harmful ones-an endeavor that’s in everyone’s best interests.