Birth Plans

Recently on my Facebook page, I wrote a 5 week series on how to use a birth plan. Here it is all together on my blog for easy reference. What do you think? Did you use your birth plan this way? Would you in the future? What would you change?

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Birth plans are a powerful way to educate yourself about your options in childbirth! There are many templates you can find with a simple Google search. As you go through the options, take the time with your birth partner to research the interventions listed, so you are both well informed about the risks, benefits, and alternatives before your birth.

As you and your partner discuss your different options from the birth plan templates and examples you found online, write down your preferred options, as well as other things that are important to you, such as "do not ask if I want medication," or "if I have a Cesarean I want to breastfeed in the OR if baby is well." That's it, you wrote your birth plan!

You have learned about your options in your birth, but just as important, you need to know your rights in childbirth! You have the right to a full discussion with your care provider about the risks and potential benefits of anything they are suggesting, and about your alternatives, with the right to say “no” to anything. Your freedom to say "no" is what gives your "yes" its value. If you are not free to refuse, then consent is meaningless. You can learn more here: http://www.acog.org/…/Refusal-of-Medically-Recommended-Trea…

Now that you have written your birth plan, after careful research and discussion with your partner, take your full birth plan to your provider and ask them to discuss it with you. Some of your preferences may be unavailable in your area, and some options may be ill-advised for your individual medical condition. Your provider should treat you and this discussion with respect, and help you interpret the research evidence to ensure you are making decisions based on research that applies to your individual medical situation.

Following your respectful discussion with your provider, you should have a birth plan that is tailored to your unique medical status, and is in alignment with your goals and values. Revise and have your provider sign your birth plan and place copies in your office and hospital records. You may wish to write an abbreviated birth plan, one page or less, to bring to your birthing location, as well as a copy of your full birth plan to keep in case you need to refer to it during your birth.

Joyce Dykema