7-Step Birth Plan Road Map

These seven steps provide a road map for how to work with your birth plan:

1. Confirm your context (your list of desires) in writing with your partner. This will be your mission statement for the birth. Add any of your own statements to this wish list as well:

I would like my birth to be (add your adjectives here).
I am planning to deliver my baby at __________________.
I would like a (doctor, doula, midwife) to be present at the birth.
Others who will be present include ____________________.

2. Review all of the possible procedures and practices: use the following list of suggestions and write down the ones that positively resonate with you. For example, instead of writing, “Would you like to use a wheelchair, if it’s available, or walk to the room?” you would write, “I would (or would not) like to use a wheelchair, if it’s available.” You’ll find that as you go through this list, you’ll make some important decisions. Reference your wishes and your context to these decisions.
For example, if you desire a hospital birth that is quiet, peaceful, and private, your birth plan should suggest ways to implement these ideas, such as requesting limited fetal monitoring, which is less distracting than constant monitoring. Or you could put a sign on the door to your hospital room that reads, “Enter quietly.” These small steps can allow other people whom you will be in contact with during the birth to be sensitive to your wishes before they enter.

3. Make a list of open questions and issues you still have, and be prepared to share all of this with your medical practitioner during an alignment conversation. If you are using a doula and/or are having a family member or a friend attend your childbirth, make sure you set up alignment meetings with each of them.

4. If you are giving birth in a birthing center or a hospital, it would be beneficial to do a tour of the facility before you have the alignment conversation with your practitioner. Write down whatever questions you have, based on what you saw, including any concerns that have come up.

5. Set up a meeting with your medical practitioner for an alignment conversation. During this conversation, review your context with your practitioner. Make sure you cover all of your questions, your wishes, and the desired mood for your childbirth. Address all of your concerns, and do not end the conversation until everything is completely clear for you and your team.
Ask your practitioner whether there is anything you have not asked or addressed or should know. You should feel excited after having this conversation, knowing that your team is aligned and everything is agreed upon.

6. When you have time to yourself, reexamine your conversations to make sure that you have addressed everything. If you still have any concerns, questions, or fears that you are mumbling about to yourself, schedule another appointment to get these issues addressed and resolved.

7. Make up a simple one- or two-page summary of all that you and your team have agreed on. This will be your final birth plan. Everyone involved with your childbirth should have a copy. Give a copy of the plan to your practitioner to keep in his or her file, and bring a few copies along to the birth to give out to those present from your birth team. If you are giving birth at a hospital or a birthing center, you may want to have a copy of the birth plan taped to the door of your room, as well as having extra copies available for other people who may be supporting you who are not on your immediate birth team. At this point, you should feel confident that this childbirth is under your

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