When do you need to write a birth plan?
I’m sure you’ve heard about writing a birth plan already. But what is it and when would I recommend you to have one?
With a birth plan, you have a possibility to express your wishes and preferences at the beginning of labour, when you are entering the hospital to have your baby. You can even discuss the birth plan with your doctor in the hospital ahead of time, if you want to see how they would treat specific situations. This can also help you choose the hospital where you’ll want to give birth. Different hospitals can have different policies how they treat some situations (for example for recommended induction, VBAC – vaginal birth after a cesarean, handling birth of twins or breech births, even how they would examine the baby after birth, etc). If you can, visit more of them and ask them about the things that are important to you.
A birth plan is a way of communication, that doesn’t have to happen while you are breathing through the contractions. So when you are admitted to the hospital, when the staff changes shifts and different people take care of you, they can quickly read through your birth plan and adjust their care for you and your baby.
Having a birth plan doesn’t mean that you cannot change your opinions and choices in the process of labour. Do you have mixed feelings about an epidural? That’s completely normal, give yourself space to decide whether to take it or not later, during labour, if you’re not sure now. A birth plan doesn’t require you to have all the answers to all the situations that might happen. But if you express some of your ideas there, your midwife can help you more with recommendations that will be right for you.
Writing down your ideas gives you space to communicate your preferences and your most important wishes with the doctor and your midwife. In case they have different recommendations for you, they’ll explain. When they explain any procedures and medicaments needed and they already have an understanding of your original ideas for labour and birth, you’ll have a much better chance to communicate and create a relationship of trust.
So when would I suggest you to write a birth plan?
If you have specific ideas about the care you want to receive during labour, birth or afterwards.
If you have wishes for different procedures or their timing, than what is automatic and standard in our hospitals. You can communicate during the labour in the process of course, but this way it can be easier for the staff to understand you ahead of time. You can express your opinions about labour augmentation (making labour faster, with natural or medical ways), delayed cord clamping, delayed initial examination of the baby, bathing the baby, parents present during all the examinations of the baby, etc.
And also, writing a birth plan is a great way to prepare for labour and hospital stay itself. When you’re making up your mind about the way you want to give birth, you come across a lot of information and decisions even before you enter the hospital. You have a chance to research and understand. Especially when you’re the type of person who likes to know their options ahead of time, so you can expect what can happen. That way you know a lot before even entering the hospital. You’ll know your rights and when the doctor asks you what you prefer (do you want the umbilical cord to stop pulsating or should we cut right away?). You already know what’s best for you and your baby 😊
It’s not necessary to have a birth plan of course. If you respect all the systems and routine procedures that are usual in the hospital and you decide based on the doctor’s usual ways or recommendations. But sometimes you can come across a situation when the things will not be explained clearly (or not at all), you won’t understand what is happening and why, or you won’t be even asked to give your permission. That can stress people out a lot, especially when it’s about labour or their baby. You can prevent a lot of these misunderstandings by your prenatal preparation.
I help my clients prepare for these situations and understand, what might happen when, what are the usual ways and where is the space for their specific wishes. There is a lot of room for you to feel more secure and cared for, when you know your options and you´re able to ask for them.
If you’d like to have some help preparing for the birth and writing a birth plan, let me know. You can join the next prenatal class or just explore your options on individual consultation with me. We can chat virtually or in-person in Brno.