If you haven't read the Part 1 of the Birth Plan Series: What is a Birth Plan? You can find that here.
Tips for Writing a Birth Plan
1. Keep it short and sweet.
Your birth plan should not be more than one page. When it is longer than a page, people don't want to read it and it can appear as though you're very needy. Use headers and bullets to get your point across without repeating the same phrase over and over.
2. Use positive phrasing. Be clear and assertive.
Instead of saying, “I don't want this, I don't want that, and Don't do this.” Consider phrasing your request, “I am planning” or “I would like.” Or start by saying, “I wish to avoid ____ (insert your bulleted list here!)” or, “It is important to us to have ____”.
Avoid using words or phrases such as “minimal”, “necessary”, “as few as possible”. These words are subjective. What one person thinks is minimal or necessary may differ from the next. Instead, be specific and use phrases or exact numbers. An example would be, “After admission, I prefer to have vaginal examinations no less than every four hours or per my request.” And, “I wish to avoid all interventions that are not medically indicated.”
3. Read other birth plans.
Consider asking friends to read their birth plans or find some online. However, DO NOT simply copy and paste a birth plan that sounds good. Make sure you know exactly what you're asking for!
4. Discuss your birth plan with your care provider ahead of time.
Work to find compromises where necessary. Provide a space at the bottom for your provider to sign the copy and request for it to be kept in your chart. This will hopefully eliminate surprises and conflict on the day of birth so you can labor without added stress.
5. Bring extra copies AND gifts for the nurses and birth team.
Chances are pretty good that if you have a basket of snacks or goodies sitting out next to your birth plan, everyone who comes into your room will stop and take a look. If you're planning to birth in the hospital, individually wrapped snacks or candies are great for a nurse to slip into their pocket to enjoy later. Some ideas I've seen are gum, granola bars, Via (instant Starbucks), cookies, lip balm, and gift cards. Butter them up! Show them that you care and appreciate them as they work hard to care for you. This is a great way to start off on a positive note.
So you've done your research and determined your priorities and goals. What happens if your labor doesn't go as you had planned? Click here for Part 3 of the Birth Plan Series: What to Do When Labor and Birth Don't Go As “Planned”.