Doulas Northwest | BYOB: Bring Your Own Birth (Plan!)
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13 Jun BYOB: Bring Your Own Birth (Plan!)


Birth Plans…Birth Preferences…Birth Strategies! Let’s talk about those.

A birth plan (or preferences, strategy) is a written form meant to outline a person’s desires about how they’d like to labor and/or give birth to their baby. An outline of ideals and expectations, if you will. It should clearly communicate your priorities and goals around labor, childbirth, and your baby’s newborn care procedures.

You may want to use a premade form from your OB or Midwife office, or you can create your own. Either way, the purpose is to end up with a personalized vision of how you would like to welcome your baby -your birth experience.

Spending time with your Doula, talking through what to expect at your birth place, your range of options, and how you feel about the options you have is one of the best ways I’ve seen to go from hoping for a great experience to confidently strategizing your best experience.

Remembering that childbirth is unpredictable and that it is important to remain flexible to changing the plan when necessary, I’ve got some tips to help you create the most personalized, effective, and well received birth plan on the block.

You will want to keep it:

  • Short: If you want it to be read, make it easy to read quickly.

Sticking to one page/one side is key to this. I cannot count the number of times I’ve seen a multi page plan be skimmed over and set aside, but a one page plan be fully read and referred back to.

The reality is that your nurse wants to know your priorities and goals, but has such a long list of responsibilities which he/she must keep up with, that there just isn’t time to read a multi page birth plan. Keeping it short helps them be able to really read it, not just skim it.

  • Sweet: …honey, not vinegar applies well here.

No nurse wants to be handed a document followed by a demanding list Dos and Dont’s, and he/she will feel disrespected when they are. Not only can this come across as dismissive to their care, but there may be things they are required to include in your care at the hospital you’ve chosen.

Your nurse cares a great deal about helping you have the experience you want. And he/she cares even more about keeping you and your baby safe.

Beginning with something along the lines of: “We want to thank you for your help and expertise as we welcome our baby into the world. We plan on enjoying our experience, and believe your help will make that possible.” almost guarantees they will keep reading your birth plan and will absolutely want to help you carry out your goals.

Also important, is to keep the language positive. Instead of saying what you do not want, say what you do want.

For example: rather than “Do not limit my ability to move during labor”, try “Freedom of movement desired”. Instead of saying “No Episiotomy”, try “Prefer to stretch or tear naturally”.

  • Simple: Divide your plan into categories, making it clear and easy for any person to pick up and find the specifics they are looking for, in the moment.

Use bullet 3-5 bullets in each category conveying your top wishes.

Avoid putting preferences in your birth plan that are already hospital protocol.

For example: if your hospital typically uses intermittent fetal monitoring, there is no need to include “Intermittent monitoring” in your plan. And guess who is prepared with information on your hospital’s policies and protocols? Your Doula.

Check out this downloadable Birth Preferences template, ready to personalize with your top priorities and let’s get to work on making your plan: Birth Preferences Template


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