Birth plans are a list of preferences for labor and birth. They can be simple or very fancy with pictures like the ones Milli Hill has created. It can be just a few requests or a very long list. It really depends on the person. The purpose of a birth plan seems pretty straight forward but I would like to talk about a less obvious reason for making one.
A while back I had the privilege of talking to a centering pregnancy group. The idea of a birth plan came up in that discussion. Of the women who did make a birth plan, their reasoning ranged from feeling protected to for their partner to be on the same page. About half of the women said there was no reason to make a birth plan as you cannot plan for birth. I could understand the sentiment but I found it a bit sad they felt so powerless.
Whatever the birth plan looks like, the important part of the Birth Plan is the exploration of options and the soul searching. Perhaps the pregnant person learns why skin to skin is so important. Or benefits of delayed cord clamping. Or perhaps they realise they really want to have a water birth. There is a lot of childbirth education that comes from making your birth plan. That’s the important part.
So here’s the thing: all birth preferences boil down to wanting dignity and body autonomy. Of course everyone wants a healthy baby and to be safe, that is never up for debate. Perhaps there is a desire for a water birth, the partner to catch the baby, or the Golden Hour, but if these wishes are not fulfilled then they are usually content with their birth if they felt like an empowered and informed human being. Which is why I always recommend to keep flexibility in mind when working with clients on their birth plans.
I think it’s an excellent idea to make a list of preferences for your birth. And maybe even a list for if complications arise. I feel this way because the only way to have options is to know you have options. So in a way, a birth plan is a plan for success!
Take a look at Milli Hill Birth plans here: