Are you expecting? Then you and your baby need a birth plan! Before you write your birth plan, you need to read Birth Plans for Dummies, written by myself, Rachel Gurevich, and my coauthor, Sharon Perkins, RN.
What Is a Birth Plan, Anyway?
A birth plan is a written one-page outline of your most important requests for birth and the postpartum period. The written plan is then used to help you communicate your wishes to your care and support team.
But in my opinion, the actual writing of a birth plan is more about self-discovery than communication. Of course, explaining to your doctor or midwife what you want (or don’t want) is important, but most importantly, you need to first know what you want! And right now, you may or may not know what you want during your birth. You may not even know what your options are yet.
As you read Birth Plans for Dummies, you’ll discover what your birth options are and get the pros and cons of those options. Then, along with your medical practitioner’s guidance, you’ll be better prepared to make decisions on what would be best for you and your baby. And you’ll make those choices before the first contractions comes.
You Can’t Really Plan Birth! So Why Bother Trying?
Some people mistakenly believe that birth plans are about planning every moment of the birth. They may also consider a birth plan a “failure” if birth doesn’t go according to the ideal plan.
This just isn’t so. Birth can be pretty unpredictable, but it’s unpredictably is what makes a birth plan so important. A good birth plan will lay out your ideal birth but a great birth plan will also address the “what if’s.” In Birth Plans for Dummies, we explain how to do this.
"I’m Having a Caesarean Section/a Home Birth/an Epidural. Do I Need a Birth Plan?"
Yes, yes, and yes. You have options even if you’re having a Caesarean. You have options even if you’re having an epidural. Birth plans are not only about saying you want a natural birth. That is only one part of birth planning.
If you’re planning your birth at home, you may be thinking you don’t need a birth plan. You won’t be dealing with routine hospital interventions, after all, and you don’t need to indicate your intention to breastfeed to the non-existent nursery nurse. The uncomfortable truth is that even home birth midwives may carry out interventions you don’t want – or, conversely, they may not typically perform procedures you do want. A plan will make things clearer for you both.
There is also much more to planning a birth than refusing procedures. Like who will catch the baby? And who will call out the sex? And what music or coping tools do you have available? And who is in charge of your older kids? And will they be there for the birth or not? And what’s available to eat or drink for your attending midwives? Just to name a few topics to cover.
Can’t You Just Use a Birth Plan Template Online?
Well, you could use a birth plan template online. But do you really know what you’re checking off? A birth plan template can help you write something up or get you started thinking about your options. But a template won’t help you consider why you may want or not want certain things.
Also, if you hand your care team a checked off list from a website, they may take you less seriously. They’ve seen plenty of women do this before without any understanding of even why they choose what they choose. So templates are good starting places, but that’s about it.
10 Great Reasons to Read Birth Plans for Dummies:
Reason #1: You’ll be seriously informed of your choices on a variety of birth and postpartum issues. The easy-to-use Dummies format makes it simple to dive into topics you’re interested in and skip the topics you’re not.
Reason #2: You’ll get unbiased birth information. Many birth plan books lean strongly towards the natural childbirth options. While Sharon and I are natural childbirth advocates — and we’ve included plenty of natural childbirth information in the book — we’re also advocates of women having choices. This book won’t make you feel guilty for choosing an epidural, or make you feel reckless for choosing a home birth.
Reason #3: You’ll get guidance on how to actually write your birth plan. The book provides concrete examples of how to word your birth plan, what topics to include and what to leave out, and an entire chapter just on writing the plan. You’ll also find birth plan samples.
Reason #4: You’ll get the latest info on hospital, birth center, and home births. We provide the latest research on birth location options, including safety statistics and why women choose the locations they do. If you’re certain you want to give birth in a hospital, you’ll get tips on how to choose the best hospital for you. If you want a home birth, you’ll learn how to prepare your home for the big day.
Reason #5: You’ll hire your birth team and invite birth guests with ease and confidence. Should you stick with your current care provider or look for someone new? Hire a doctor or a midwife? What about a doula? You’ll get all the info you need for making these important decisions. We also discuss your birth guest options, including whether to invite your mother or not, and how to include your children at the birth (if you choose to do so). You’ll also get our advice on what makes a great birthing buddy and who you should leave in the waiting room (or at home.)
Reason #6: You’ll have an information-packed resource on natural childbirth pain relief options. You’ll discover your birthing style and get information on a wide variety of natural soothing techniques, from yogic breathing techniques to massage to water birth.
Reason #7: You’ll have an excellent pictorial guide to birth positions and movements. We explain the benefits of movement in labor, how to get past common obstacles to movement, and provide a number of illustrations so you can try out your new moves with confidence.
Reason #8: You’ll understand your Cesarean section birth options. We explain what to expect during a C-section, ways to possibility avoid one, and how to make the best of a Cesarean if that’s what you want or need.
Reason #9: You’ll be ready to advocate for your plan and help your team advocate for you. Creating a plan won’t help if you don’t know how to get what you want. We’ll give you and your birth support team tips on how to advocate for birth plan, without making enemies with the birth team!
Reason #10: You’ll be better prepared if your birth doesn’t go exactly to plan. Besides encouraging you to have a back-up plan in the event your ideal birth plan doesn’t go as you’d hope, we also provide support and resources in the event your birth experience is difficult or even traumatic.
Buy Birth Plans for Dummies Now!
You may also want to check out…
- Birth Plans for Dummies: Table of Contents
- Free excerpt! Chapter 1: Creating a Birth Plan: What It’s All About
- Extra online content! The Birth Plans for Dummies Cheat Sheet