What is a Birth Plan
Planning for labor can be a difficult task. It can also seem overwhelming when you consider all the options that are available to you. Some women feel it is not even worth it, sense you can't really plan for how your labor will go. They reason that a birth plan is useless because you don't know ahead of time if you will have problems. But that is exactly the reason why you need a birth plan.
If everything went perfectly in labor, if everyone were going to do everything you asked and labor progressed rapidly and without a single situation that required you to make a decision, then there would be no need for a birth plan. You see, a birth plan is not a script for how you want labor to progress. And a birth plan is not a contract with your doctor or midwife about what will happen during labor.
First and foremost your birth plan is an introduction to you, and how you would like to handle labor. It might explain what pain relief techniques you would like to try, what interventions you would like to avoid or what atmosphere you would like in the labor room. No matter how good your relationship is with your doctor or midwife, you do not know the nurses at the hospital and they do not know you. A birth plan helps the nurse understand who you are and what help you might like.
As you build your birth plan, you will use it as a discussion starter with your doctor or midwife. When you bring it to your visits, you and your caregiver will be able to determine what options are best, and what options might not be available to you. This will help your caregiver to understand what type of support you are looking for, and it will help you determine if this caregiver is the best match for you.
During labor, if situations arise in which a decision must be made, it is easy for a nurse, doula or coach to check your birth plan and see how you wanted problems or issues to be handled. It lets them know what options you would like to try, and what options you would like to avoid.
So you see, the power of the birth plan is not in it causing you to have a certain outcome in labor. Its power is in its ability to help others determine how to respond to both the expected and the unexpected situations of labor.