If you are reading up on birth plans, then I know your birth plan is important to you. You have preferences, desires and dreams for your birth that you want to effectively communicate to your care team. The best way to be sure your birth plan is an effective tool, is to understand its purpose and how it can be the most useful.
Let’s talk about birth plans!
Q: Do I need a birth plan for my home birth?
A: Actually, you kind of don’t…
Let’s take a step back to the purpose of a birth plan. Birth plans were not really necessary until the hospital came along and didn’t really become popular until the 80s when women started taking more control. In the 1910s women were advocating to be put to sleep for birth.. Fast forward to the 70’s – more women were advocating for natural births and we see home birth making a comeback around this time, so naturally the birth plan was proposed as a way for women to declare what they wanted in an increasingly medicalized birth world. Birth has only gotten more medicalized since then. Honestly, enough women have not left the medicalized system of birth. So if you can .. just birth at home where you won’t need a birth plan!
A birth plan is not as necessary in home birth because the care is already individualized. The purpose of the birth plan is to let your preferences be known and to facilitate a discussion around your options. This happens naturally in most home birth settings. So it’s not necessary to have a document to facilitate it.
However, a birth plan is a much needed tool in the hospital birth.
In the hospital you often are seeing a new provider every appointment, you have very little discussion on options and you care is not individualized at all. You are literally being treated the same as every other mom who walks in at 30 weeks.
Writing a birth plan is a way for you to get to know your options. It’s a way for you to take the time and do the research needed to be informed and educated. When you go about it this way, really getting informed along the way, that’s when your birth plan becomes the most beneficial to you.
The birth plan also serves as a communication tool. It should not just be handed over to the nurse once you are admitted to the hospital. That kind of skips over the conversation part. You know that I specialize in helping moms have more of a homebirth style birth in the hospital.. Well, then you need to be having conversations, out loud, with your care team.
I want to share a story from a mom inside my program. She recently shared inside our community her experience having this conversion with her hospital midwife.
“I showed up to my most recent prenatal appointment with my whole binder of research, including the Academy workbook that I have been working on completing. I had my birth plan in the front sleeve of the binder. Midwife says, okay let’s talk about your birth preferences, I just handed her the binder. Initially you could see her panic, but after looking it over she relaxed and said that all of my requests were in line with her own practices. She then flipped through my binder and seemed genuinely impressed with the workbook and my other research.
It was almost as if for the first time she didn’t look at me like I was some nutter and actually an informed patient who had taken the time to actually make sound decisions.
I feel so much better about my upcoming labor. I think my midwife and I are in a much better place, and I’m feeling a lot better that I switched back to her from the OB.”
This mama recently had her baby and it was everything she had hoped for. This is the perfect example of how your birth plan can facilitate a discussion and get you closer to individualized care than simply not making a birth plan or going with the flow. Of course there will always be circumstances where a discussion is not productive and in that case you may wish to just show up and be ready to advocate and have your partner ready to advocate, day of.
Now, when you show up to the hospital or hospital based birth center you could possibly have a nurse you have had zero discussions with and possibly a OB/midwife you have not talked to (though hopefully this is not the case). I personally have had someone I built a relationship with in 1 out of 3 hospital births. So it IS still important to have that 1 page document to hand out with the highlights of what you want in your birth plan in case that happens. I go over my birth plan template in episode 49 and also worth noting that you may need to listen to episode 24 after having a discussion with your provider.. in episode 24 I talk about firing your provider. Which a lot of academy moms do end up doing! Talk about being empowered!
If you are ready to join us inside the academy, to get informed, educated, and empowered for your birth., the best time to enroll is around 20 weeks. Yes, that soon! If you have questions about enrollment you can always DM them to me or grab a seat in one of the upcoming birth options workshops. It’s linked below in the show notes!
Birth Options Workshop: Get clarity on your next step, whether that is choosing a provider, deciding on a birth place or where to start with birth education. RSVP now.
Ready to start your birth prep?
Birth Prep Class: This 30 minute class will teach you what you can do now to help prepare your mind and body for an unmedicated birth. It’s FREE
Unmedicated Academy: The signature program for moms who want to be the boss of their unmedicated birth and be educated, informed and empowered. We will chat each week and you’ll be blown away by how much support is inside. Join the empowered mom club
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