The Importance of a Birth Plan ~
Why have a birth plan?
Why is it important?
Is it necessary?
We are all wired so uniquely differently, we will all see the reasoning and answers to these questions slightly differently.
However, I wish to highlight this is why I feel birth plans are important in the process of birth preparation and entering the fourth trimester:
‘Having a plan cultivates having researched. Having considered. Having weighed up. Having educated oneself. Having looked at the options to all the possibilities while recognising there could be deviations to the plan.’
Birth plans can be a ‘birth preference’ – a map, a guide, a reference, a platform, a sense of security in knowledge.
Knowledge = Power enabling us to make informed and confident decisions.
With the understanding and acknowledgement that, if necessary, we can choose to re-map and deviate our plan along the way during the process of birth and take a different path than what was pre-thought.
It is okay to change our minds – as long as we do not feel pressured into doing so and we’re making informed choices.
What are the risks? The benefits? The alternatives? What if we choose to do nothing?
Women have choices and have rights and are very much in control of what happens in the birth space. Education is invaluable.
A woman needs to know that she is supported in this very sacred space. The environment is which a woman births in is extremely important.
In a simple Google search ~ (direct quote)
‘…Why a birth plan is important.
Having one is a great idea! It helps things run much more smoothly when delivery day finally arrives. A birth plan is a set of instructions you make about your baby’s birth. It tells your health care provider how you feel about things like who you want with you during labour, what you want to do during labour…’
…and from ‘Mayo Clinic Health System’
Why is a birth plan necessary?
‘A birth plan is a way for you to communicate your wishes to your health care team during your labour and after the birth of your baby. Each birth is a unique experience. Creating a birth plan empowers you to become informed of all your options during labour. At the same time, it’s a tool to let the team caring for you know about your preferences’…
Some questions you may answer in your birth plan include:
- Who do you want present in the delivery room?
- Do you want to be offered medication for management of pain? If so, what type of medication?
- Do you want a natural birth and to use alternate measures for comfort?
- Do you want to move freely during labour?
- Do you want to use hydrotherapy?
- Do you want your baby continuously monitored?
According to a Journal of Perinatal Education, (advancing normal birth) – the use of formal birth plans entered the birth space and were developed in the 1980’s. They were used as a way for women to engage with their health care providers to be able to specify preferences for their birth experience.
Article quote: ‘The birth plan is a tool that outlines a woman’s expectations for her birth and can open communication between a woman and her care providers, providing the woman with knowledge prior to giving birth’.
It goes on to say: ‘Conclusions are that women’s positive and negative recollections of their birth experiences are related more to feelings and exertion of choice and control rather than to specific details of the birth experience.’
In May 2021 Catherine Bell, Birth Cartographer was in Perth, and I attended one of her workshops where she welcomed birth workers to journey with her around informed birth preparation. Her resources I have since used in my birth work – they’re fantastic!
Catherine’s materials showcase that a birth map is a series of statements containing a woman’s informed decisions. A woman doesn’t need to go into detail and can be confident in preparation. The purpose of the document is to state informed decisions.
The power of the document is in the statements it contains: Again, informed decisions. Presented any way. Keeping it simple.
The ‘game of birth’ – one of Catherine’s resources which is a board game is a fun approach that is insightful and knowledgeable, relatable and gets partners involved too. It takes you along paths: from pregnancy and through the different stages of labour. You work your way through a book, a dice and off you go. Things can and do deviate along the way and choices need to be made.
One couple I shared this game with during pregnancy experienced just that at the time of birth (birthing in Melbourne so I was at a distance) they changed providers during labour (can you believe – how brave !!!) It wasn’t working or quite going as expected, they weren’t receiving the care they had hoped for. The birth became anything but planned/expected yet the outcome was an absolutely beautiful one…why, because Mama called the shots, she was in control and felt in her power and moved herself to a safe, sacred space where she felt supported.
I encourage the ‘game of birth’ to be used in the birth preparation space. Helps couples to think ‘outside the box’ in preparation for birth.
To order your Birth Map Kit including the Birth Map Game CLICK HERE
I feel having a birth plan also encourages parents to be thinking beyond the birth and into the moments and days immediately after and settling into fourth trimester, which is also so valuable. Delayed cord clamping, who handles bub the most, ideas about feeding preferences all are important things to consider.
Some additional ideas here for thought and possible inclusion in a birth plan:
· Positions for labour and birth
· Overdue/Inducing/Augmenting labour
· Water Birth
· Third stage (delivery of the placenta)
· Baby’s umbilical cord
· Postnatal care of baby (skin to skin)
· Feeding the baby
· Unexpected situations
· Special needs
How can women share their preferences without being ridiculed.
I believe this is a team effort. Having the right support in the birth space will allow women to relax into the process of their birth, knowing their support team will follow through and assist in ensuring their voice is heard through their birth plan when they are focussed intuitively on their bodies and their babes.
By being up front and direct ahead of time with professional care providers will also show how aligned the providers are with a mother’s birth preferences and whether or not she’s in the right place. Well educated mums will be able to share with confidence and certainty. It’s a women’s body, she has rights, she has choices. Her strength in knowledge will allow her to rise up against opposition!
Let’s support our mothers ~
Let’s educate our mothers ~
Birth: the start of life as a physically separate being: the act or process of bearing or bringing forth offspring.
Preparation: the action or process of preparing or being prepared for use or consideration.
Plan: a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.
Language is more than words. The unsaid is usually more powerful.
Let’s get alongside our mothers ~ …Let’s have their voices heard.
Hi, my name is Ange Blizard from AngeMaree Collective. I am a qualified Doula who has completed extensive training at the Doula Training Academy in Perth. If you would like to chat all things pregnancy, birth and motherhood, please get in touch.
I would love to connect with you!
AngeMaree Collective Doula Services
Creating safe, calm spaces
0400 860 630