BIRTH PLAN BASICS
Birth. Plan. In some ways it's very interesting that those two words are used in the same sentence, much less the same phrase. Birth is such an organic, all encompassing, life changing event. The very idea that we could somehow "plan" it reduces the almost mystical quality of the experience. However, unlike planning a vacation or career path, planning for a birth is much more dynamic. After the actual decision making process of choosing a care provider, place to give birth, what tests you will take, how to eat, exercise and basically live your life with this little being growing inside of you...it's actually a matter of choosing how you want to be treated in labor.
As you can see, the process of creating a birth plan starts long before you sit down at the computer with your pile of birth books and windows open with birth plan templates. It begins when you select a provider. His/her birth philosophy will be the one that drives the whole process at some level. If you choose one whose philosophy aligns well with yours, then you're in a good place. If not, then all the planning in the world will not change their minds.
When you take responsibility to educate yourself on prenatal nutrition and exercise, and then follow through, you are in a sense "planning" to either be in optimal health (as much as is in your power) or not.
Only then are you really ready to begin the process of creating a birth plan. Here are three basic essentials to help you get started.
I. Keep it simple. Your provider is more likely to read a 1-2 page birth plan and really give it attention, than a longer winded 4 page document. Bullet points are great. Short, concise phrases get the point across.
II. Organize it according to your style. One way is to break it up into first, second, third stage (including baby care in the third stage.) Another option is to create four simple paragraphs that state your general philosophy. Yet another style could be bullet points listed in order of importance to you.
III. Include a short sentence or two about how much you appreciate their support and care and that you anticipate being able to discuss any deviations from this in case of an emergency. Trust and dialogue are both important aspects of a really good birth team.
One way to really be able to work with your birth plan is to take a childbirth class that teaches you the mechanics of birth, including coaching, and comfort measures that are non invasive.
Your baby's birth will be a day like no other. It will be a day you remember for the rest of your life. Plan for how you wish to be treated, entrust your care only to someone who honors those wishes and then continue on enjoying this beautiful time of growth and change as you await your child's birth day.