Women will tell you that a birth plan isn’t useful since you cannot plan your baby’s birth. Of course, various situations can happen on the big day that you couldn’t have anticipated: very long labor, need for a C-section, unbearably painful contractions, your ob/gyn is on vacation that day, so on and so forth. Nevertheless, a birth plan can help you maintain your focus and help you stay calm even if unexpected events occur. Typically, you share your birth plan with everyone directly involved in the birth so that they understand your wishes and help you resolve any issues before the big day. Again, a birth plan will not predict every single aspect of your delivery, because there are so many aspects of birth to consider, but it is best not to wait until the last minute to put your plan together.
The most important aspect is to be reasonably flexible in your choices because things don’t always go according to plan. And, remember, your and your baby’s health are the main priority.
With this in mind, the following points can serve as a guide for your plan:
You do not need to re-invent the wheel, just make it fit
There are many good birth plans available online (see samples below) and on pregnancy apps. Use one of those as worksheets while you are thinking about your birth plan. But a personally written birth plan shows your health care providers that you are educated and serious about your wishes. They are also far easier for your health care providers to use.
Know the rules and policies
Every hospital, clinic, and birth center has its own policies. Health care providers (ob/gyn, doula, midwife, obstetrical nurse) have their own set of rules as well. Find out what those are. If a rule or procedure doesn’t sound good to you, or if you have questions, ask and discuss! For example, you want to rent your own tub for a water birth but the hospital doesn’t allow you to do that. Ask and discuss.
Be educated about your choices
Learn about the choices you will face attempting to write a birth plan. You can begin by doing your own research online and then discuss your findings and thoughts with your health care provider.
Get acquainted with the environment
Especially for first time moms, it is a good idea to spend some time in an empty birthing or labor room to become more familiar with where you will be and what you might want to add to your packing list (extra pillows, pictures, music, etc). This should leave you feeling more confident about your birth plan and your choice of a birth location.
Discuss your birth plan with a close friend or family member
Pick the person who you want to represent you if, for some reason, you are not able to communicate your wishes before, during, or after birth. Share and discuss your birth plan with him/her and make sure they keep a copy of the birth plan in case you misplace yours.
Sometimes things get complicated
As stated above, sometimes things do not go as planned. You may want to consider including in your birth plan how to handle complications should they occur.
Examples of birth plans:
childrensmd.org (great birth plan written by a pediatrician and mom of 5)
The following birth plans are in checklist format. I encourage you to only use them as a guide and to write your birth plan using your own words, as in the previous example.