the blog of a Philadelphia birth doula.
"Are you writing a birth plan?"
This is a question I ask every client. A birth plan is an important tool for birthing families, allowing them an easy method of conveying their wishes to their care team. "Why do I need a birth plan?" you may be wondering. "I can just tell people what I want, or don't want!" That's true, of course - you absolutely can! That said, a birth plan is more than just a list of things you want or don't want while you're birthing. It's an opportunity to explore the options you may have for your birth, as well as decisions you may need to make about your care. The following 5 tips are suggestions, based on my experiences as a doula, that will help you craft a rockin' birth plan.
This is your chance to let people know who you are. A brief statement that identifies you, your partner, and any other support people with you (such as your doula), as well as briefly stating your primary hope for your birth, is a great beginning. If you are using a particular birthing method that has specific language associated with it (such as Hypnobabies), your introductory statement is a great place to mention that, as well as anything that makes your birth special or unique. Are you planning a natural birth? VBAC? Expecting twins? Let people know!
The best birth plans are short, and to the point.
I encourage my clients to come up with a list of 3-5 bullet points to build their birth plan around. Spend some time considering what your ideal birth experience looks like. What are the things that feel most important to you? This looks a little different for everyone, so spend some time thinking about it. Your 3-5 bullet points are going to be the things that you're willing to fight for, versus things that would be nice, but that you aren't heavily invested in. Definitely ask you doula for feedback.
The language we use is important.
Once you have your 3-5 bullet points, it's time to evaluate the language you're using. Do you see a lot of negative statements? The words we use are so important, and that's especially true when writing your birth preferences! Instead of focusing on what you DON'T want, focus on what you DO want.
For example, "I don't want to be in bed unless I have to be" becomes, "I prefer to be free to move and change position, in whatever way feels most comfortable." Instead of, "I don't want any unnecessary interventions", you might say, "Please take time to explain any recommended interventions, so I understand, and am able to make an informed decision about my care." Positive language has a powerful impact, not only for the birthing person, but in how your birth plan is perceived by your care provider.
Limit your birth plan to things that impact your medical care.
Many birth plan templates available online contain items such as, "I would like to have music of my choice played", "I prefer dim lighting", and "I would like to wear my own clothes." Those are important things for you to know, and it's important for your support people to be aware of your comfort preferences, but they aren't necessarily things your care provider needs to be aware of. In most cases (clothing being the possible exception), environmental comfort choices don't impact your medical care, and adding those items to your birth plan makes it needlessly cluttered. If you prefer dim lighting? Turn the lights off. Want music? Turn some music on! Easy peasy! Many of my clients choose to make a second "comfort plan" that is just for me, with all those little extra details which will impact their overall experience, so I can help them create the environment that supports their vision for their birth.
Once you have your list of birth preferences put together, share them. Email it to your doula. Make copies for your birth bag. Give one to your care provider. Do they seem supportive? Indifferent? Antagonistic? Have a conversation with them about it. If there are specific items they don't feel they can support, find out why. You don't want to wait until you are in your birthing time to discover your care provider or chosen birth place can't or won't support your birth plan.
Need help crafting a birth plan, but not ready to hire a doula? Ordinary Miracles offers birth plan coaching services! Email OrdinaryMiraclesDoula@gmail.com (subject - birth plan coach) for more information!
Professional birth and postpartum doula, breastfeeding support and childbirth classes in Philadelphia, Delaware County (Delco) and the Main Line, including: Bala Cynwyd, Bryn Mawr, Center City, Fishtown, East Falls, Germantown, Havertown, Lansdowne, Media, Mt. Airy, Northern Liberties, Ridley Park, South Philly, Springfield, Swarthmore and the surrounding areas.