It’s not rocket science: a birth plan is your plan for how you want your birth to go. It’s kind of a like a wedding plan or dinner party plan, except you have a lot less control over what actually happens. So do you even need one? I think there’s an easy way to tell. You probably found this blog entry by Googling something like “what is a birth plan,” and you probably Googled that in one of two frames of mind. Option one: you heard the phrase “birth plan,” and thought “Oooooooh! I want one of those!” Option two: you heard the phrase “birth plan,” and thought “Oh crap, I’m supposed to have one of those??” If you came from option one, you need a birth plan. If you came from option two, you don’t.
So, option two folks, let me just say a few more words and you can move on with your day: You don’t have to make a birth plan to have a joyful, miraculous, kickass birth. No one is going to ask for your birth plan like a job application when you show up on birthing day. You don’t need to write anything down in order to know your own heart and your own mind. You don’t need a piece of paper to point to when you tell your care provider what you want. If the idea of making a birth plan doesn’t appeal to you, skip it! That’s it. Have a great day!
All right now option one folks. I hope you aren’t discouraged after reading that last paragraph. While it’s true that making a birth plan won’t guarantee you the birth you want, if you’re the type of person who enjoys planning, then making a birth plan can help ease your anxiety and give you some concrete outcomes to celebrate when the time comes. These things will absolutely enhance your birth experience. The birth plan can also be a handy communication tool if you want to give copies to your healthcare providers, so they can see at a glance what your preferences are.
Ah yes, “preferences.” As your friendly internet-neighborhood doula, I’d like to take this opportunity to gently advise that you think of your birth plan as a list of preferences, rather than a concrete plan. Because even the most prepared, well-educated, strong-natured parents aren’t guaranteed an uncomplicated birth. Somewhere along the way, there will be a surprise, and if your plan doesn’t have any flexibility built in to allow for these, it becomes a source of stress real quick.
With that in mind go forth an plan! If you’re ready to start and yet wondering just where to start, check out my blog post “Birth Preferences to Consider.“