What if I told you that writing a birth plan was a waste of time?
Would you believe me if I told you that your healthcare provider most likely won't even read it? Heck, you'll be lucky if someone (other than your doula) even scans it.
Why does something that you put so much thought and effort into get completely disregarded by many of the healthcare professionals that are there to help you achieve your ideal birth?
It's because they're not there to help you achieve your ideal birth - and that is a truth some women only realize after their birth experience HASN'T gone the way they had planned.
Prenatal Education & Birth Doulas
As a doula part of my job is to teach my clients to advocate for themselves, and although it's lovely to print off a birth plan template from your favourite pregnancy website, simply filling it out doesn't do much, let alone change outcomes.
I believe the alternative is a two part replacement:
Take a Childbirth Education Class!
The first is to take a childbirth education class. It astounds me when I hear things such as "Only 30% of women in Ontario take a childbirth preparation class" (a percentage that is a guesstimate at best since there is no official statistical data being collected about this in the Province of Ontario). Education, information, knowledge & truth - these are the tools that a woman needs leading up to and on labour day.
And what about that birth plan? While I am not against the idea completely, I have witnessed that it holds no merit for a labouring woman who doesn't have the education to back up her choices or a support system in place.
Birth Preference & Birth Support
So, what's the alternative? Firstly, I like using the term Birth Preferences - a term used in the HypnoBirthing® curriculum. Simply the word ‘preference’ infers that certain decisions regarding the birthing experience are a first choice, made for a reason, in conjunction with many other choices to support the type of birth that one is hoping for - preparing for. The last point is crucial. Preparing for birth can affect your outcomes dramatically. A birth may not go as planned, but if the focus is not on planning, then it doesn't fail to follow that plan.
Instead the focus is on preparing, understanding, practicing (yes practicing), knowing & trusting. Of equal importance is surrounding yourself with the team that can support the preferences you have for your birth experience: your birth companion, your midwife or OB, your birth setting, and of course, your birth doula.