Depending on your provider and birth location, birth plans are either welcomed and encouraged or overlooked and under appreciated. A birth plan is a wish list of birth preferences. An ideal snapshot of how you would like your birth to play out in the best possible way. It is not a list of demands or an absolute plan. This is the main reason why birth plans have a poor reputation. Despite this there are four reasons why you should take the time to craft a birth plan or birth preferences list.
The act of working through birth options does take some time. However the time it takes to review and understand your choices will help you and your partner to better understand what choices are available to you, your needs as you see them in this moment and plan for what your needs might be in labor. As birth plan is not a list of demands it should also cover flexible contingencies in the event of an emergency or unplanned outcome.
A written birth plan can be handed to your team (doula, birth assistant and provider) as an ideal way to communicate what your wishes are prior to birth. It can help your team to better understand how to support you in labor in order to help you have the outcome you desire. It outlines your desires in a straightforward birth and also covers unexpected situations in case of a change of plans.
A birth plan can also share with your nurses and support staff, in labor, what is special about you and this birth. Do you have any allergies? A previous medical condition that could impact the way you labor or your needs? A current pregnancy complications that could be overlooked or any special needs?
A birth plan should not exceed one sheet of paper. And nurses seem to prefer short bullet points or short sentences which are easier to read and remember if the birth is quick or when reviewing the plan. For home birth, a birth plan is more birth location specific so that the birth team can navigate your home easily while you are in labor without interrupting you. No matter where your birth place taking the time to write a birth plan can help you to ensure the best possible outcome.