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Birth Plan Checklist

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The Importance of a Flexible Birthing Plan

The nursery’s painted, the closet’s full of onesies, and you’ve even explained the situation to the dog! Today’s expectant mothers don’t truly feel ready, though, until they’ve prepared a detailed birthing plan. But if birthing plans are so important, why should they be so…flexible?


What is a Birthing Plan?

Most moms-to-be have a birthing plan whether they realize it or not. Officially, a birth plan is a document that specifies your preferences for the birth of your child meant to help everyone involved understand a clear course of action. It’s a great starting point for discussion around everything from epidurals to the clothing you’ll wear on the big day.


What’s included in your birthing plan is entirely up to you. Common considerations include who you want to be present during the birth, which position(s) you prefer to labor in, and whether or not you choose a doctor or a midwife. Of course, each and every birthing plan involves a different level of detail.


Will My Hospital Honor My Plan?

If you have a specific birthing plan it’s important to choose a hospital or birthing center based on its willingness to honor your wishes. For example, if you’d like to avoid pain medication during labor, ask whether or not the facility has a higher-than-average rate of epidural usage, or whether they encourage alternative pain management techniques like relaxation breathing. Likewise, if you’re adamant about avoiding a cesarean birth, choosing a hospital with a low c-section rate might be a priority. In Atlanta, WellStar North Fulton Hospital has the lowest c-section rate.


If your birth plan contains specifics you feel strongly about, talk to your medical provider early on in your pregnancy. Knowing whether or not your birthing location allows doulas, placental encapsulation, or even something as simple as eating during labor may affect your decision about where to give birth. You, yourself, may change your mind during deliver about what exactly you need – and that’s okay! Be sure to select a birth team that shares that same understanding.


Why Does My Birth Plan Need to be so Flexible?

It’s my plan, after all! While that’s certainly true, no one – even second, third, and even fourth-time moms! – knows exactly what to expect in labor and delivery. Every baby, every pregnancy, and every labor is different. The best-laid plans may have to change on a dime if the health of you or your baby are at risk. It’s crucial to choose a doctor or midwife you trust to help you make good decisions in the moment before the pressure is on.


A good birthing plan is as flexible as it is specific. According to WellStarNorth Fulton Hospital, one of the most experienced maternity centers in Atlanta, “Design your birth plan with a positive focus. Instead of making a list of what you don’t want, focus on what you do want. Use phrases like, “we hope to,” “we plan to,” or “we anticipate.” Try to avoid phrases like, “we don’t want” or “we want to avoid.”” That’s great advice! “Hoping to” have a water birth means planning for one: choosing a hospital that provides them, selecting an experienced doula, and even choosing a focal item. But if a water birth suddenly isn’t possible due to the conditions of your labor, it’s critical to be open and willing to change. Flexibility is best for you and your baby! And remember, it’s okay to change your plan when the time comes to bring baby into the world – you can prepare as much as possible, but as you experience labor, be open and flexible.


Do you have a birth plan? What do you predict will be most important to you and your partner during delivery? Share your experience in the comments!