A birth plan, or care preferences document, is a statement of your preferences for your birth and it demonstrates to your birth team that you intend to take an active role in the decision-making process of your labor and birth. You can search for samples online, or if you have a doula she can help you prepare this document, and you should share it with every member of your birth team in advance in order to address any questions or concerns or to catch any preferences which cannot be accommodated at your birth place or in your particular medical situation.
Keep in mind that your audience is your care team (OB or midwife, nurses and other medical staff, and your labor support people); be specific to your birth place — it shows you did your research when you are familiar with specific hospital or birth center protocols. If you are planning a home-birth, you might have a plan for home with a back-up birth plan in case of hospital transfer. These two documents should look radically different because of audience and options available in each setting.
Consider the specific options available to you in your birth place and do your research as to the risks and benefits of each option. What does your intuition tell you is right for your family? Once you have explored all of your options, you have an opportunity to communicate your hopes and dreams for the labor, birth, and immediate postpartum period.
Guidelines for preparing your Birth Preferences Document:
Keep it to a brightly colored single sheet of paper: one page or print it double sided
List your preferences chronologically: Labor, Birth, Postpartum.
Bullet, bold and highlight your priorities. It should be obvious what is most important to you.
Be succinct, say it clearly and get specific.
If you find a well-put statement on a sample birth plan and like how something is stated, don’t reinvent the wheel.
Birth Strategy Considerations:
*** Indicate items to include on Birth Preferences Document
Choosing a Care Provider
Choosing a Birth Place
Sibling and Pet Care
Clothing during Labor
How long to Labor at Home
Activity during Labor
Eating and Drinking***
Positions and Comfort Measures***
Monitoring of the Baby***
Interventions to Speed Up Labor***
Support Person(s) during Labor***
Positions during Pushing***
Watch Birth with Mirror
Who gets to catch the baby***
Vacuum or Forceps***
Support Person(s) for delivery***
Skin to Skin after delivery***
Placenta delivery and care***
Cutting the Cord***
Initiation of Breastfeeding***
Antibiotic Eye Ointment***
Universal Newborn Screening***
Where will baby stay***
Family and Visitors
First Photo, newborn pictures
To make better and informed decisions, use your BRAIN!
B - Benefits - What are the benefits to going ahead with this decision?
R - Risks - What risks are associated with doing this procedure or making this decision?
A - Alternatives - What alternatives are available here? What alternatives are there that might not be available here but available somewhere else?
I - Intuition - What does your gut tell you?
N - Next or Nothing - What comes next if we say yes? What happens if you say no? (go through BRAIN for the no scenario if it is a legitimate option)