Welcoming your child into the world is super exciting, and such a beautiful gift. Along with the excitement there’s also a lot to prepare for… including preparing for the birth!
However, it’s important to understand that in our perfectly imperfect lives, we can’t always plan for everything and sometimes we need to be a little flexible! I can tell you this from personal experience.
During my first pregnancy, I created a very detailed birth plan for a natural birth— very little actually went according to plan! In the end, I needed to have a C-section after 50 hours of labor. I had to adjust my birth plan significantly during my first pregnancy, but as long as my baby arrived safely, I was absolutely willing to be flexible.
During my second pregnancy, I chose to create a birth plan that was much simpler. My plan was just to deliver a healthy baby. And I did! I didn’t care nearly as much about the birth plan for my second pregnancy, as long as my baby was born safely.
So please know it’s okay if your birth plan doesn’t go completely as you hope it does. The best birth plan is one that results in a healthy mom and a healthy baby, so don’t fret if a few things— or even a lot of things— end up being different from your plan.
Pregnancy and childbirth are a beautiful and intimate part of many women’s lives, but they can also be unpredictable! It’s okay if our realities are not as perfect as our expectations— as long as mother and baby are both happy and healthy, there is no right or wrong way to create a birth plan.
All that being said though, planning for your baby’s arrival by creating a birth plan offers you some peace of mind.
Your birth plan doesn’t have to be complicated. Yet, with the right preparations you’re removing unnecessary stress from your pregnancy. It allows you to focus on your health and on delivering a healthy happy baby. Most importantly, you’ll have peace of mind on delivery day.
I’m sharing a few important things to consider while learning how to create a birth plan, but first let’s better understand what a birth plan is.
What is a Birth Plan?
A birth plan is your written plan that outlines your wishes as an expectant mother before, during and after the birth process. Share your plan with anyone involved during the birth. This includes your obstetrician and care providers, birth partner, and any family or friends you want to share in this special experience with you.
When you prepare a written birth plan in advance, you, your partner and your care team will have a list of guidelines to follow as you prepare to bring Baby into the world. This can help to ensure your baby’s birth goes as smoothly and easefully as possible.
A birth plan can include whatever information you want, but there’s a lot of information that you probably want to consider, like your care specifications during labor, postpartum care, and even comfort requests while giving birth.
What Should My Birth Plan Look Like?
There is no right or wrong way to create a birth plan, it’s entirely up to you! The intention is to help create the most stress-free birthing process, so stressing out over creating a complicated plan if you’re not a planner isn’t the goal.
If you’re looking for something easy and not complicated, you can create a bulleted list as an effective way to outline your plan. When thinking through what to include, you may not know where to begin. In that case, you can choose to use a birth plan template. Your care provider may have one available or you can find them online. 1 I’ll also share some important information to include in your plan below.
Like your pregnancy, your birth plan is unique to you and doesn’t need to be any more specific than you want it to be. You can even create a very minimal birth plan, and that will still be just fine. Sometimes, the most important part is that writing a plan beforehand encourages you to ask questions that you may not have otherwise asked. It also helps you become more informed of your options.
Everything that happens during childbirth isn’t controllable, but being prepared regardless of what happens can provide peace of mind and see to it that your wishes are honored where they can be.
What Information Should be Included in a Birth Plan?
Some mamas may want a very thorough and detailed birth plan— I did for my first pregnancy! Others may not, and that’s totally fine too. Information you absolutely want to include on any birth plan includes: 2
- Your name
- Your due date
- Contact information for your care provider, whether they are your doctor, obstetrician, midwife, doula, or any combination of these
- Any important health information to consider during active labor
- Your birth partner’s contact information
- Where you would like to give birth, and the address
Some details you may want to consider before you go into labor include:
- Do you want a hospital birth, a home birth, or to give birth at a birthing center?
- Do you want to use a midwife, a doula, or both?
- Do you want to be able to walk around or sit up in bed during labor?
- Do you want to be able to eat or drink during active labor? Would you prefer to stay hydrated via IV?
This is where you can outline your preferences, big or small, during your childbirth experience.
- Do you want a vaginal birth or a C-section?
- Who do you want to be present at the birth? (your partner, your mom, a friend, etc.)
- Do you want to use labor pain management, such as epidurals or IV pain medication, or would you prefer a natural birth with alternatives for comfort?
- For a natural birth, do you want to use pain management alternatives, such as hydrotherapy or essential oils?
- Do you have a desired birthing position? Do you want to use items such as a birthing ball or tub?
- Consider any comfort measures you may want during labor, including breathing techniques or relaxation music
- Would you prefer an episiotomy or risk tearing of the perineum? 3
- If necessary, would you want to use oxytocin or Pitocin during labor to aid contractions?
It’s important for you to take postpartum into consideration in your birth plan as well. A few decisions to make following your baby’s birth can include:
- Who will hold Baby first?
- Do you want skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth, or after the baby has been bathed?
- Do you want your baby bathed?
- Who will cut the umbilical cord and when (delayed cord clamping) 4, and whether or not to bank the cord blood
- What do you want to do with the placenta?
- Will you breastfeed or use formula?
- If you give birth to a boy, will you circumcise your baby?
There is definitely a lot to consider here! But don’t let that worry you, Beauties. These are just a few suggestions for creating your very own birth plan. As a helpful rule, any detail you’ve spent time thinking about is worth including on your birth plan.
Do You Need to Create a Birth Plan?
You don’t need to create a plan, but for all of the reasons shared above, it can be very helpful! Remember, your birth plan can be as specific and comprehensive as you wish, so you don’t need to stress about creating the “perfect” plan. But it’s definitely helpful during delivery and after if you have a plan for your baby’s birth, especially if there are complications.
What to do after Birth for a Healthy Postpartum Period?
After birth, you’re moving into the next beautiful phase of your life – the postpartum period. It’s a wonderful opportunity to bond with your baby and nourish yourself in new ways.
Many women share their experiences and talk about some of the challenges during this time (like sleep!), but when you incorporate our Four Cornerstones of True Beauty during this period, and truly nurture yourself and your body, you’re doing the very best things to help create a happy, healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
There is so much to know during the postpartum period, like how to support a healthy mood and prevent the baby blues, how to best lose the baby weight, get a good night’s sleep, and how to produce lots of nutrient rich breast milk!
That’s why I’ve created a comprehensive postpartum course for our plant-based Beauties (and anyone who wants to incorporate more healthy plant-based foods during this period). I discuss everything from what to eat, how to nourish your body through exercise and movement, how to support your emotional well-being and even how to support your spiritual growth (which isn’t about religion but rather how to get in touch with your true self!).
Our postpartum plant-based pregnancy course is available by early 2022. Let us know your interest and we’ll notify you as soon as it’s released!
- Editors, The Bump. The Bump Birth Plan Tool, The Bump, 19 Aug. 2014, www.thebump.com/a/tool-birth-plan.
- “What to Include in Your Birth Plan: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000567.htm.
- “Episiotomy.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/episiotomy.
- “Delayed Cord Clamping.” American Pregnancy Association, 5 Oct. 2020, americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/labor-and-birth/delayed-cord-clamping-26005/.