Why and how to do a birth plan?

Having a birth plan is an effective way to take an active part in the preparation of your birth. Among other things, it allows you to inform yourself and make your own choices. Having well-defined ideas is certainly very good, but beware, flexibility is the key.

Pregnant woman sitting cross-legged on a bed

Don’t forget to download your birth plan template to fill out quietly with your partner before discussing it with your midwife or the birthplace of your choice.

What does it do?
A birth plan is first of all a tool for YOU. It allows you to write down everything that comes to mind, your ideal birth, your wishes and objections. Put everything you want in it without thinking about “what people will say” or the protocols. Having a birth plan will open the way to communication with your partner. Indeed, we each have a personal vision of how the birth and the immediate post-natal period will unfold and the plan will allow us to share certain ideas, to refute others, to discuss and probably to discover that certain points that seem obvious to you are not necessarily obvious to your partner. Preparing a birth plan will also serve to inform you about certain practices and protocols, regardless of where you will give birth. And above all, it will highlight the wishes and important aspects for the future parents so that the care staff can take note of them and respect the key elements… as far as possible.

Do I need help to write it?
Parents-to-be are perfectly capable of doing their own research and drafting a plan. However, it is worth discussing this with a midwife or doula to confirm to the parents what is and isn’t possible (in hospital settings for example), what is and isn’t negotiable, and to ensure that the parents know why they are making certain choices. For example, if a late cord clamping is desired by the parents, the person, and in particular the doctor or midwife who will read your plan, may ask you “why do you want to wait at least 10 minutes before cutting the cord? At this point, knowing how to answer the question will give you some leverage with the person reading it and show that you have informed yourself. Discussing it with professionals will also help parents to think about things they may not have thought about. 

Pratique et logistique
The birth plan must be clearly readable and your intentions clearly stated. In order to present it to the maternity ward, for example, make sure you create it in advance so that the hospital staff can keep a copy in your file. Don’t forget to put it in your maternity bag for the big day and for your partner if necessary. Your partner is the person after you who knows your wishes best and who will ensure that the plan is respected when you are no longer able to look after it. Don’t forget to prepare one too if you have a scheduled C-section, absolutely ESSENTIAL!

I made a birth plan and in the end nothing happened as planned
If there is one event that NO ONE can predict, it is a birth. Hence the importance of being flexible, of being ready to negotiate and, above all, of accepting that we cannot control everything. In order to avoid unpleasant surprises, disappointments and even traumas (for example an emergency caesarean section under general anaesthetic when you had planned a totally physiological birth, this can be very difficult to live with). If, however, you put your ideals down on paper but are aware that it could happen differently on the big day, the experience is bound to be a little better. The birth plan is not a fixed element but can evolve during the pregnancy and up to the moment of the birth itself. A plan drawn up at the beginning of the pregnancy will not be the same as one drawn up after attending birth preparation classes. You don’t owe anything to anyone and you can change your mind at any time!

Rebeca Foëx-Castilla

Rebeca Foëx-Castilla
Mother of Ethan, Amos et Numa
Doula in training & Perinatal loss support 
Instagram @rebeca_doula
Read her MotherStory