2 Super Important Benefits of Writing Your Birth Plan
A birth plan documents your goals, desires and preferences for the birth of your sweet babe.
For women having their babies in a hospital, unfortunately, it is known that many women have had their birth plans judged (and even laughed at or made fun of) by their care providers. I am not behind anyone being made fun of for their goals, wishes and desires, nor how they prepare their birth plan. It points to bias and lends itself to a lack of compassion and understanding from care providers.
Having said that, I think these kinds of scenarios stem from a couple of different things that I’d like to share here, in hopes that it guides you to finding power in the process of discovering your birth goals and writing your plan, as well as helps to create some understanding and collaboration between you and your team.
The more attached we are to something, the less likely it is to go that way
When I say attached, I’m not talking about committed. Being attached is like having a death grip on your desires and wishes, leaving ZERO room or flexibility for any other options. It’s THE PLAN and that’s just how it’s going to go.
Being committed to your birth goals means doing what you can to powerfully and mindfully prepare for it, such as taking childbirth classes, doing prenatal yoga, daily affirmations, hiring a doula, going on a tour of the hospital or birth center you are delivering your baby at, and/or interviewing several home birth midwives before hiring.
One of things I have witnessed in my work, and personally, is the more attached we are to our birth plans, the more it seems like things go completely opposite of it. I think it stems from a fear of what we "don’t want to have happen.” If we don’t resolve those fears powerfully before, they can and usually will show up during labor. Fear keeps us constricted, tight, and anxious during labor, therefore hindering our ability to relax and let the labor hormones flow, thus slowing or stalling labor.
I suggest that you journal what your fears are around labor, i.e. fear of drugs, induction, tearing, etc. I'd also look at what biases you may have around labor too, such as a natural birth being "better" than a medicated one. And then look at what you can do to help address those fears and how you can prepare if any of those scenarios were to occur. Review your biases and where those come from and see what you can do to release those as well. Doing this work up front and before labor can help you lean into labor with grace, openness and flexibility.
Your birth plan is an important part of documenting your preferences so you can focus on the task at hand; bringing your sweet babe into this world!
Here’s an brief example to see how you can document your goals and intentions, along with listing your preferences, should it go a different way:
“We intend to have a natural and unmedicated birth. We’ve prepared for this by taking childbirth classes, and practicing daily yoga and mindfulness practices.
Should my labor go in a direction that an epidural becomes part of our plan, I’d like the lowest loading dose possible to start, to use a peanut to support keeping my pelvis open and baby’s movement during labor, and to be moved and/or rotated every 30 minutes or so.”
Information is power and helps to create open dialogues with your care team
One of the other reasons that I think birth plans aren’t being received well at times, is if there is a lack of flexibility in the plan. If your plan only includes “the way” you want it to go, vs. options should things change, it can create a harried and frustrating time for you, first and foremost, but also for the care team that’s supporting you.
If you are more willing to be flexible and open to options, should your ideal scenario change, you’re setting yourself up to be able to work more collaboratively with your team. You’ll have a better understanding of all scenarios and you and your partner (especially as you’re in the throes of labor) can dialogue more powerfully with your team.
Your team may also feel less “resistance” from you (because you’re not dead set on your plan) and they will hopefully be able to offer better understanding and support for what is happening, and be more honoring of your preferences.
Every care provider, i.e. nurse, doctor, midwife is different and they all bring their own personalities, biases, and opinions. That’s why it’s SOOOO important to find a team that you feel comfortable with from the start, and to do the research on the birth location that feel right to you.
Birth Preferences vs. Birth Plan
I personally encourage the term “Birth Preferences” vs. “Birth Plan” in my classes and with my clients, simply because I think that creating a “plan” for birth can lend itself to inflexibility just by virtue of the word. It can support the notion of being “attached” to the outcome, vs. willing to be in the flow of how things are unfolding.
We can lay out our ideal scenario, and then also clearly identify our preferences, should things go a different way. To me, this is the ultimate in power, and is so in alignment with preparing for labor. Being in the flow, trusting what arises and our power to face it and work with it, knowing that we are phenomenally capable, and that all is well. What a gift to practice such things well before our babies arrive!
Join me this Wednesday, June 19th for my free How To Write Your Birth Plan Workshop and expand on the topics discussed here, as well as learn:
4 key elements to include and what things to consider when creating yours
How to source solid and unbiased information to craft the preferences that work for you
You'll also leave with worksheets and a sample template to use to create your own.
Hope to see you there!
Dawn Herring is the owner and founder of Empowered Births and Beginnings. She's a wife and Mama to two babes, born a little over a year apart. She loves supporting couples and empowering Mamas as they navigate pregnancy, childbirth and beyond with Childbirth Education Classes and Doula Services. She teaches classes and serves women and families in the Tampa Bay Area.