What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is a way to quickly and easily communicate your preferences, goals and boundaries about your labour, birth, the immediate postpartum and newborn procedures with your midwife, doctor, obstetrician, doula and nurse. Keep your birth plan short and to the point is key so that everyone will be able to quickly review it when you are in labour.
What should be in a birth plan?
Your Preferences, Goals and Boundaries around:
Pain relief: natural comfort measures, pain medications, etc.
Medical interventions: IV, Induction, Augmenting labour, monitoring the baby, pushing, assisted delivery; vacuum, forceps or episiotomy
The immediate postpartum: skin-to-skin contact, delayed cord clamping, cutting of the umbilical cord, breastfeeding
Delivery of the placenta (third stage): hands off, natural delivery, Oxytocin injection, etc.
Newborn procedures: antibiotic eye ointment, vitamin K, Neonatal Metabolic Screening (Also known as Phenylketonura or PKU), circumcision, etc
Emergency situations: transfer to hospital, caesarean birth, partner and doula presence, baby care, skin-to-skin in the OR
The unexpected: health concerns with the baby, NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), still birth
What is a birth plan not?
A birth plan is not a PLAN. A birth plan should not be set in stone. It is not a list of what will and won’t happen or a schedule of any kind. When writing your birth plan, keep an open mind and remember this is your opportunity to express your preferences, goals and boundaries. However, if an emergency were to occur, it would be best to follow the instructions of your care providers.
How to write a birth plan:
First, decide what’s important to you. What are your goals around the birth of your child? Are you having a home birth or a hospital birth? How will that effect your hopes and dreams for your birth? If you are planning a home birth consider what would need to happen if there was an emergency and you needed to transfer to hospital. Once you are clear on your preferences, goals and boundaries it’s time to write up your birth plan. Keep it simple and brief. Consider using simple titles such as Labour, Delivery, Postpartum, Newborn Procedures, Emergencies and The Unexpected with point form notes underneath. Try to keep it to one page if you can. There are numerous birth plans online however most of these are unnecessarily lengthy and wordy. There may serve as a good starting point for you though so have a look around and see what you can find.
Another option is to create a Visual Birth Plan. Click here to learn more.