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Are you looking to write an amazing birth plan? Are you wanting something more than just the generic template to create your birth plan? Are you hoping to create something that accurately articulates your hopes and your desires for the unforgettable day that you give birth to your baby? Is a natural birth your desire, but you are going to be within a hospital setting?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then a birth plan is going to be an amazing resource for you to create and have on hand.
Whether you are having your first or your tenth baby, having a birth plan that accurately, concisely, and thoroughly describes your wishes and goals for this day is essential.
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I will take you through the steps you need to create your own birth plan from the beginning, or you can use mine as a template to modify as you wish. Either way, you will have a birth plan that accomplishes everything you need it to on the big day.
My birth plan? It’s been with me six out of the seven times that I’ve given birth since my first child arrived just a wee bit early before I actually had one written. That’s tip #1…write it earlier than you may think you will need it 🙂
Here are the steps I used to write mine
First, let’s stop calling it a birth plan. Let’s stop calling it a birth plan because if there is one thing I have learned about giving birth seven times, it’s that there is very little that you can plan about that day.
Not only does removing the word “plan” get your mind in the right place, it also helps you establish a great relationship with your caregivers right off the bat since they understand that you understand that you cannot plan everything.
With that in mind, let’s create a birth strategy.
Here are the steps that will help you create a killer birth strategy, and I can promise you these steps don’t start where any other birth plan tool has had you start
First, recognize that birth is a natural occurrence that has been taking place since the beginning of time.
In most cases, your body will be able to birth your baby without intervention, if you so choose.
Develop confidence in this long before your due date arrives. Talk to other women who have had positive birth experiences, and wipe away any negative stories about birth that you have heard, even if they are your own. Each woman is unique, each baby is unique, and each experience is therefore unique as well.
Viewing birth from this standpoint is an essential key in accomplishing a natural birth if that is your desire.
Next, you will need to examine what you want or don’t want in regards to medication and intervention.
Become educated about your options, learn the techniques that will aid you in accomplishing these desires. Even if you plan on avoiding medication, learning about your options is still an important step.
To achieve a natural birth there are numerous techniques that can aid you from breathing and relaxation, essential oils, visualization, and music, to various massage techniques and tools. As a childbirth educator for more than 10 years, I have always explained to my expectant couples that the more techniques you can utilize at one time, the better. As you do this, the pain gets pushed further and further out into the periphery.
For example, if you are able to use aromatherapy, music therapy, relaxation, breathing, and massage techniques, you have all of these other elements in addition to the pain that you are feeling. The pain is only one ingredient in your overall experience.
Closely related to becoming educated about pain relief options, whether natural or artificial, is to learn about the phases and stages of labor and birth since the best way to achieve a sense of confidence and mastery is by feeling in control.
A feeling of control is best achieved through knowledge.
I have yet to find someone who has benefitted from not becoming educated in some way when it comes to labor, laboring skills and techniques, and what happens during the delivery process and postpartum period. Having no idea of what to expect is of no value to any laboring mother. In talking to the expectant couples who came through my class after delivering their babies, they all, and I mean all, spoke of the value of just being educated, of knowing what to expect, and in knowing what was happening to them as it was occurring.
Fourth, you must decide who will be present throughout the labor and delivery process.
Then, determine what their role will be. These roles will be something that both you and these people will want to have clearly defined, researched, and practiced.
It is best to have someone with you who will not only comfort you, but who will also be the liaison between yourself and your healthcare team. Trust me, there are times that the thought of even forming a complete sentence can be too much while you are in hard labor. It is ideal to have someone with you in labor who is aware of your desires and can be your advocate.
If you are looking for a natural birth, your labor partner will be working just as hard as you are at some points. In fact, they may even work harder at times. In order to help you, they will have to be just as educated and as practiced as you are. This is where a quality childbirth education comes in.
Finally, because you realize that you cannot plan, you must also become educated even about the things you don’t want to think about.
Learn about a cesarean section, learn about episiotomies, learn about interventions and medications of all kinds even if you don’t intend to use them so that you will be more able to accept any of the above scenarios happening to you.
Then, cover what your wishes are regarding these things should they become necessary. As much as you may not want to, the essence of the birth strategy recognizes that there are things that could happen during your labor and delivery that could be completely out of your control. Therefore, you need to address these things as well.
After you have given thought and researched all of these things, you should be able to create a birth strategy that clearly outlines your wishes.
My suggestion is to give one to your doctor or midwife ahead of time, and then bring plenty of copies with you so there are enough to give to every person in your healthcare team.
Here is a copy of my birth plan that puts all of this into use. Feel free to use it to your benefit.
- Jennifer has been educated in all aspects of labor, delivery, breastfeeding, and the postpartum period. She has practiced various techniques that she hopes to utilize throughout the labor and delivery process.
- While we recognize that we cannot plan for our birth, we ask that you recognize that we approach birth from the perspective that birth is originally nature’s plan and that Jennifer’s body is completely capable of giving birth according to that plan.
- Throughout our time in the hospital, Jennifer’s husband will be her birth partner, so we ask that all questions and comments can be directed toward him in order to allow Jennifer to focus on the task at hand. She prefers to be left alone as much as possible with her husband as her constant companion.
- In an attempt to achieve a sense of privacy, we ask that only necessary personnel be in the room and that everyone let us know exactly who they are and what they are there for.
- We would like to create a relaxing and quiet environment in any and every way that we can. Dimming the lights, controlling sound, and limiting personnel are all examples of how we hope to achieve this.
- Jennifer hopes to change positions frequently, even if confined to bed for any reason.
- Jennifer hopes to receive only intermittent fetal monitoring and to spend as little time in bed as possible to allow for freedom of movement both for her and for the baby.
- Jennifer would like for a birth ball to be made available.
- Jennifer uses hydrotherapy as her primary means for pain relief and would like to use the tub and or shower as often as possible.
- Jennifer plans on using no pain medication, and if Pitocin is suggested, she has her own breast pump and would like to use that as a means of starting her own flow of Oxytocin instead.
- Jennifer prefers a slow and controlled delivery in order to allow for natural stretching. She prefers a natural tear and would like to avoid an episiotomy as in her pervious seven deliveries.
- We would like for the baby to be placed skin-to-skin with Jennifer immediately after birth and covered with blankets for body temperature control rather than the use of artificial warmers.
- We would like for the baby to remain with Jennifer until after the first breastfeeding is completed, postponing any medical procedures until after that has been completed as much as possible. If medical procedures are necessary, we would like for them to be administered while the baby is still with Jennifer.
- If anyone feels that our wishes cannot be carried out, we would like to be informed of exactly why and given time to discuss our options in a non-emergent situation.
Having a birth plan in the form of a birth strategy will be completely worth the time and effort you put into creating one. In today’s medically minded society, some may view birth plans as outdated and unnecessary, but as someone who has educated numerous expectant couples in childbirth education as well as given birth seven times, I can assure you it is perhaps the most valuable thing that you will bring in your hospital bag.