What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is the document that you write for yourself about the things you want and do not want to happen during childbirth.
The main goal of a birth plan is to remind you as a mother of what is important for you without needing to explain it in detail. Writing a birth course as part of your maternity checklist allows you to organize your personal priorities.
Should you prepare a birth plan?
The birth plan is personal and is intended to remind you how you want your birth to happen. A birth plan is intended primarily for the mother and not for the medical staff. So if the question is whether to prepare a birth plan for you, the answer is yes.
Very. It is not advisable to take a birth plan from the internet or even use a birth plan that worked perfectly for your friend. Every mother is a world and its fullness, and every birth is a world and its fullness; your body and how you want to manage it are different. The process is unique to each mother-to-be, and so are the expectations of birth or your definition of the term “positive birth experience.” You definitely can begin with the birth plan of your friend or the one you found on the internet, for example, as a checklist to make sure you’re addressing all the subjects that should arise in the birth plan. This can help you ensure you haven’t missed anything that’s important for you, but each individual decision still depends on you.
However, a written birth plan is less important to the medical staff. This is not because they are not interested in your wishes, but simply because the medical team will not always have time to immerse themselves in the written birth plan in the busy maternity ward and delivery room. Of course, members of the medical team are interested in your wishes. But it will be easier for them to understand you if you express those wishes in word and deed, especially during delivery. For example, if you are interested in natural birth, you must explain this to the medical team accompanying you as well as your wishes about motility and managing labor pain (using a TENS machine as an example).
A birth plan can help you stay focused when you explain these things.
When is the right time to prepare a birth plan?
At the beginning of the ninth month, just when you are getting closer to the end of the pregnancy period but not too close to delivery. This will be after you had done a birth preparation class, a hypnobirthing course, and been enlightened about the process and your expectations for birth. You might want to write your birth plan before any stress, worries and distractions that come with early labor.
What should a birth plan contain?
It should be comprised of everything necessary for birth: who will accompany you during delivery and when, the care of the baby immediately after birth (caregivers, how to take care of the newborn, vaccinations, zero separation, would you like warm compresses, or perineal massage during labor, etc.) but only what is essential. This is not the point where we go into detail. Instead, imagine chapter headings in a reminder note for something important to you, a sort of roadmap leading up to birth.
What do you do with this plan at the moment of birth itself?
Something similar to what you do with such a plan at work. No matter where you work, at some point you will probably need to prepare a plan outlining your future goals, and probably more than once. And just like at work, this plans the general destination more than the exact steps that will get you there, and for the same reasons. There are a lot of factors that come into play in how you will deliver, some of which are unknown, and many of which are beyond your control. The crucial factor in this context is what you should do at each stage of birth, even if it doesn’t go as you planned.
Is the birth you plan the only good sort of birth?
Equally important: Even if things turn out differently than planned in the end (you didn't have a vaginal delivery for example), you must not feel like you didn’t live up to your expectations or that, God forbid, you failed. Yes, even if nothing you wrote in the birth plan came to fruition. Birth is a dynamic process, and it is important to keep an open mind—not only during delivery but also well before, when preparing the birth plan. If everything goes as planned, that’s great! And if it doesn’t, that’s fine too. The goal is to leave the delivery room with a healthy baby and a healthy mother and, if possible, after a successful birth experience.
It’s good when everything goes exactly as planned—but let me tell you right now that nothing goes exactly as you planned. Make good plans but stay flexible when it comes to childbirth and even when raising children. The point is that there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a positive birth experience, even if your birth doesn’t go as planned. The birth plan you have prepared will help you stay focused on what matters.