09 May How To Write A Birth Plan That Will Be Respected
Birth Plans, Birth Preferences, Birth Wishes…call them what you want. The burning question I always get is:
How can I make sure my birth plan will be read and respected??
So I’m going to tell you what I’ve seen work over and over, at hospital after hospital. With OBs, Family Physicians, Certified Nurse Midwives, and many many Labor & Delivery Nurses.
For years, I’ve watched as they stop, read their patient’s birth wishes from top to bottom, ask clarifying questions if they have any…and then refer back to it at different times during my client’s birth process. Seriously.
So. Here’s how you write a birth plan that will be respected: You keep it short, sweet, and to the point.
- Keep it short. One page, single sided.
- For the medical staff to feel that they have time to stop and read these wishes, it must be kept short.
- Avoid cluttered text and long sentences. Your nurse wants to hear what you have to say, but he/she must also keep up with a long list of duties, so making it quick and easy to digest will help make sure it gets read thoroughly.
- Avoid the redundancy of listing wishes that you know are already hospital policy. (Ex. asking for immediate skin to skin with baby, in a hospital that holds the Baby Friendly designation)
- Keep it sweet. When we give respect, we usually get respect.
- Start off with some words of appreciation and acknowledgment of the care they are taking of you and your baby. Thank them in advance. This small gesture of respect goes a very long way when you then ask them to respect your wishes.
- Avoid demanding language in the text or details of your birth plan. The less it reads like a do/don’t list or a contract, the more receptive your care team will be.
- Get to the point. As in, bullet points.
- Categorizing and using a visual like bullet points makes your birth plan much easier to navigate, visually. You will be more likely to see your provider and nurses pick it up and seek out the details relevant to where you are at a specific point in labor, if they can find that part easily. Bullet pointing helps make this happen.
- Avoid long sentences with more words than are actually necessary. Short phrases are your friend here.
Remember: You are not writing an essay. You are looking to communicate simply and effectively, what your top priorities are for labor and birth. And you want your priorities to be respected. Keep that goal in mind when taking this approach. Simplicity is valuable.
Feel free to download this pdf and edit to personalize with your information and written preferences. Ask your doula to help you phrase each point so that it is communicated as a respectful priority rather than a demand. And don’t be surprised when your care team takes notice!
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