Have you heard about developing a birth plan? If you’ve read pregnancy books and articles, you’ve probably been introduced to the idea. Many pregnant women choose to have one, and others don’t. If you’re trying to decide if you need one, here are some things to consider.
If you have strong opinions about interventions, then a birth plan might be for you. A birth plan outlines clearly what your desires are regarding interventions like an epidural, episiotomy, and pain medication. It gives you a chance to research these things and present your desires before you’re in the middle of labor (when it can be kind of hard to think straight!).
Compatibility with Hospital Policies
If you’re giving birth in a hospital, you’ll need to make sure your plan is consistent and compatible with hospital policies. If there’s a conflict, you will either have to find out if you can get an exception, find another place to give birth, or compromise your plan.
And Baby Makes Three…or Thirty
Many women value their privacy during birth. If you do, consider a birth plan. In the plan you can specifically state whom you want to be present and how many people you want to be around while you’re in labor.
Everyone Needs to Know
Every person involved in your prenatal care and birth needs to know your birth plan. You’ll need to take it with you to every appointment, especially if you see different doctors throughout your pregnancy and if you don’t know which doctor will actually be at the birth (this is a common scenario in military hospitals). Your partner will need a copy, too, so he can be your advocate and mediate on your behalf, and he can help make sure the plan is being followed.
You Can Only Control So Much
One problem with a birth plan is that it may present a false notion that everything will automatically go according to plan. If you are easily upset when things don’t follow their prescribed order, you might want to re-think the birth plan idea. It might help to keep a frame of mind that says the plan is just an outline; your body may surprise you – after all, your baby may have his/her own birth plan!
Creating a birth plan can be a great educational tool. To create a plan, you’ll need to research how birth is conducted in hospitals, birth centers, and in home births; you’ll familiarize yourself with common interventions and the pros and cons of each. You may come out of your birth plan experience with a completely different view of birth in general.