Writing A Birth Plan
Claudia was 36 weeks and getting down to the final stretch, and today was the prenatal appointment with her Doula Team. Up until now, Claudia and her Doula support team had called, texted, shared situationally appropriate memes, and kept in contact. Today they would all gather in the same space to discuss in detail her upcoming birthing experience and create her birth preferences plan. While Claudia set out waters and a plate of fresh cookies, a smile crept over her face. Together her Doulas were making their way up the driveway. Immersed in a visibly light-hearted conversation and friendly demeanor, that made Claudia eager to welcome them into her home.
What Is A Birth Plan?
A birth plan (or birth preferences, as we like to refer to it at VFD) is a template that helps a family envision how they would like to have their birthing experience. Birth plans come in all forms, and can be as minimalistic or as extravagant as the birther wants. We all create a birth plan in one way or another. Some people like a simple one-sided, one page document. Other people create artwork out of their birth plan with pictures and affirmations. While others develop a story around their birth plan. And some people don’t create a birth plan at all.
A birth plan outlines the events surrounding the birth. Sitting down and thinking about all the possible options related to welcoming a baby is simply overwhelming. A birth plan allows for a breakdown within each moment of labor (early, active, transition, and pushing) and provides an informative take on the options one has regarding giving birth.
Is A Birth Plan Necessary
While a birth plan is not necessary, understanding the options of what is available may be highly desirable. For nine months, the gestational carrier has housed, nourished, and safely kept the bundle of joy growing in the womb; and it ain’t over yet! The birthing realm can have twists and turns and ups and downs. Preparation brings a sense of control over the many things of birth that are not controllable (aka baby, body, cervix). What’s necessary is surrounding oneself with support, trusting your provider (and seeking out others if you don’t), and having a general understanding of how the body and the baby work together in labor and birth.
How Flexible Should A Birth Plan Be
Birth is unpredictable. It’s the circle of life, it’s raw, it’s beautiful. It’s plethora of adjectives. Therefore having flexibility in your birthing desires creates a foundation that can still be achieved in different ways. Should one throw their entire plan out the moment something deviates from the original plan. NOPE! Does it mean that nothing in the birth will happen the way one wants it to. NOT AT ALL! What flexibility means, is that the birthing person has the choice, the option, the “say uncle” to change their mind and to change plans as they want to.
What Should One Include
Curating birth preferences is fun! Our Labor Doula Teams enjoy sitting with our VIPs during their prenatal visits and walking through labor and birth from start to finish. During that stroll through labor, interventions, comfort measures, protocols and procedures, and “when it’s time” are all discussed. When writing your birth plan, it’s good to know the policies and procedures of the facility where you are giving birth. Some facilities do continuous monitoring and hepLock as a protocol. Other facilities may give the option of intermittent monitoring, laboring of the bed, and more freedoms. All of these are (and more) are some things to think about.
Some (of many) points you may want to consider to include in a birth plan are:
- Where would you like to labor? (Home, birthing facility, woods)
- Will I want music? Oils? Photos? Lights? Affirmations?
- How do you feel about medications during labor? (IV, Epidural, etc)
- How do you feel about interventions during labor? (Foley Bulb, Pitocin, artificial rupture of membranes)
- Have you thought of a “code word” to use if plans change? (Pineapples anyone?)
- Do you want to participate in the “Golden Hour”? (Delayed cord clamping, immediate skin-to-skin, breastfeeding)
- Do you want to do with the Placenta? (Honor, encapsulate, discard)
- How do I plan to feed the baby? (Breastfeed, pump, formula)
- Do I want the standard newborn medications administered? (Vitamin. K, HepB, Erythromycin)
- What newborn screenings are being conducted? (APGAR, PKU, hearing)
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Benefits of Childbirth Education Class
If a Labor Doula is not on your birth team, taking a childbirth education class is an affordable and supportive way to gain knowledge surrounding birth. Childbirth education classes provide detailed information about how the body and the baby work during labor. In VFD’s Bring It On, Baby! The How, When, and Why childbirth education class, your facilitator walks attendees through the steps to creating your perfect birth preferences plan. Check out our Education tab for our next scheduled childbirth education class!
Claudia’s prenatal visit left her feeling empowered and informed. Her Doula Team walked Claudia through the nuances of labor. They talked thoroughly about how to count contractions, when to call her doulas, how to know “when it’s time”, and so much more. The prenatal visit was the missing piece to the ease that Claudia was feeling. Baby had more time to bake, and Claudia was feeling more equipped going into the final trimester.