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Birth Preferences/Goals Vs. Plan

If there is one thing that can be guaranteed about labor it is that birth is unpredictable. There are so many variations of normal during labor and a lot of different options and questions that can be asked. When you are admitted to the hospital there is pages of questions that need to be answered and signed and it can be overwhelming.

With the resurgence of birth options and patients being more educated on what they want for their births, the concept of birth plans have become a popular thing to prepare and share with your birth team. Some providers see birth plans as a negative, they feel that the patient is not willing to listen or deviate or that they are telling the provider what will happen. I have seen this time and again, but when we change the page title to birth preferences or birth goals, providers are more receptive to having a discussion. I am not saying all providers are negative towards the plans, but there are some that are.

Words matter! How we approach things matter! When we use the words preferences or goals, we are sharing what we would like to happen in an ideal scenario. We are going into the birth with some flexibility, acknowledging that we may need to pivot some options and decisions.

When my clients hire me, I help create a 1 page visual birth preference guide, they fill out a questionnaire that allows me to know their wishes. At their last prenatal we finalize the sheet and they will then share it with their providers. I also bring 3 copies with me to the birth for the nursing staff. I have found that the staff don't fully read anything that is more than 1 page and I try to have the document organized in the stages of birth.

The top of the page has client information as well as my own. I then write an opening paragraph that goes something like this: "The following birth preferences was created for our (son or daughter's) birth, containing our wishes and preferences in order to make our birth experience the best it can be for our family. While we understand that anything is possible and certain circumstances may warrant deviating from the plan, we hope that we can work together with the amazing hospital staff at (said hospital), incorporating their expertise and knowledge, in order to meet as much of the plan as possible." After that paragraph, I split the rest of the page into 3 (First Stage being labor, Second Stage or the pushing/delivery stage and Baby Care). I bullet point each wish and write it in as few words as possible.

There are many different services online that offer templates and even to write the birth plan for you. I like visual birth plans because it allows the provider to find the wish quickly if needed. I created my own icons, but there are several websites and ETSY pages that have icons you can use or purchase.

I know that it is a small change from the word plan to preference, but as I said earlier words matter. I have seen that small change make a huge difference in the reception my clients receive when they share the plan with the nursing staff and providers.

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