How to Master the Birth Plan

Part 1: Education and The Basics

So, you’ve been asked about your birth plan and not sure where to start?

Or, perhaps you’ve written a birth plan and it says six words “GET THIS BABY OUT OF ME”!  
Whatever your situation a birth plan can be overwhelming to write if you don’t know what choices you have in the first place.

Birth plans are often asked for when you complete your application for many hospitals or birth centres.  They are a great way of communicating your wishes to the medical and support team, even possibly listing some contingencies should challenges or an emergency arise during the birth.

So where do you start?

Writing a birth plan can be overwhelming – where do you start?

In this four-part blog series, we’ll dive into some of the key areas to focus on when writing a birth plan, the basics that you need to provide no matter what your preferences and where to get extra help if you need it.

Step 1: Educate Yourself

This would have to be one of THE most important aspects to preparing for a birth and for writing a birth plan.  It is almost impossible to communicate your preferences with a birth team if you don’t even know what your choices are to begin with.  

It’s like going to a restaurant and asking the chef to please prepare for you an amazing dinner, healthy and just the way you like it.  You have no menu, you don’t know the end cost, you don’t know the ingredients available and the chef has never met you.  They have no idea what ‘just the way you like it’ means to you.

Emilie van Oosten

It’s unique and individual; and it’s the same way for your birth plan.  It’s individual for every birth you have as well, no matter if this is the first baby or number ten.  (This will make more sense when we start talking about The Birth Story in part four).

How can you find out more information?

  • Enrol in group or private birth education classes
  • Hire a doula to help you write the birth plan with you and guide you through this process
  • Read evidence-based literature or recommended books / blogs about labour and birth
  • Talk to medical professionals eg. Obstetrician, midwife, GP
  • Talk to other mums, take part in forums or talk to family / friends who know you well

Whatever resource/s you choose just make sure that it makes sense to you and feels right. There are many different choices out there and some will be true for you, while others won’t be.

It can become an overwhelming journey with a massive amount of information readily available. The number one piece of advice that I can give to you is to ask questions of people you trust if you are unsure and stay true to your core values or beliefs.  

Step 2: Note The Basics

There are some details required in a birth plan that a birth team will need no matter what your preferences. 

Some of these are listed below to help guide you when writing the basic outline of your birth plan:

  • Your Name & contact details
  • Details of your current or preferred medical team (especially if you are transferred to a hospital from a home birth)
  • Details of your birth support team (this may include friends, family and if you have a partner)
  • Environment you wish to birth in (this may be a water birth, at home, in bed, on the birth ball etc)
  • Special needs (for example are there religious needs, disability, special diet etc)

These basic requests are details above and beyond your regular medical history. They communicate the details of your team and any important details that must be made quickly available to staff to ensure your emotional needs are met.

In some situations, a support person or partner may be required to make decisions on your behalf which is why easy access details are vital.

So, if you’re currently writing your birth plan and feeling stuck or about to start, get researching and feel comfortable about your choices.  If you’re not sure where to start, my advice is to enrol in birth education classes as these are often filled with amazing resources.

See you soon in Part 2 where we will discuss outlining your preferences for procedures and pain relief.

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