A Better Birth Plan

A great birth plan isn’t just about what you WANT from your care providers. It’s about what you BRING to your birth.

A birth plan is best used as a tool for COMMUNICATION with your partner and your care providers, well before the baby is due.

And always, you will dance between PREPARING for the birth of your dreams and cultivating ACCEPTANCE of all outcomes.

Birth works best when you can… TRUST your body: do your research and practice your skills. TRUST your care providers: choose them carefully, communicate well.

Step 1. Develop SKILLS you will bring to your birth. How will you work with your body, your baby, and your partner to facilitate the baby’s journey, no matter how the baby is born? (Good skills can improve health and comfort in all situations, from a planned cesarean to a surprise on the bus.)

Step 2. Find out if your care provider already offers a birth planning worksheet.

Step 3. Use books, educators, websites, and other resources to complete the questionnaire “How Do You Feel About…” with your partner.

Step 4. Discuss both your skills and your preferences with your care provider. Discover any discrepancies between your preferences and their care protocols, and communicate prenatally until you have a mutual understanding. Again, the goal is to cultivate a mutually TRUSTING relationship. You may consider changing to a different provider, or you may consider revising your preferences.

Step 5. Write a concise Skills and Preferences note to be attached to your medical record and also kept in your birth bag. It should include what skills you BRING to the birth, what options you PREFER, and a statement of your willingness to ADAPT to changing circumstances.

How Do You Feel About…

  • Prenatal ultrasound
  • Prenatal genetic testing
  • Hospital birth, birth centers, home birth
  • What/who might help you in labor
  • Electronic fetal monitoring
  • Drugs like Pitocin to start or speed up labor
  • IV fluids
  • Vaginal exams in labor
  • Analgesics (drugs for pain) Anesthestics (like epidurals)
  • Moving around in labor
  • Episiotomy
  • Cesarean section
  • Cutting the umbilical cord (when? who?)
  • Skin-to-skin contact right after birth
  • Breastfeeding, bottlefeeding
  • Erythromycin ointment in baby’s eyes
  • Newborn Vitamin K and PKU testing
  • Newborn immunizations
  • Having the baby with you or in the nursery
  • How long to stay in the hospital
  • Circumcision

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