Postnatal Education

Birth Plan or Birth Principle?

Did you know 65% of providers find birth plans to be not useful to births while 85% of parents believe it is helpful to their birth of their baby? Where is the discrepancy between the two parties?

Let’s back up and define what are a birth plan and birth principles.

Birth Plan – a guideline, sometimes step by step or hour by hour if very specific, that parents create to help them advocate and let providers and birth helpers know what they want in their birth. This can include location of birth, who will be at birth, interventions, pain management tools, what will happen after birth with baby. The problem is, this is baby’s birth and baby makes the plan. Even the best laid plans of birth can all go away. Re-read that sentence again out loud. There are things in labor that cannot be pre-planned.

This isn’t to say that a birth plan isn’t useful. It definitely can be helpful especially as a discussion tools for mother and birth partner to talk about and prepare for different scenarios that can happen during birth. All birth professionals and members of the mother’s family should be involved. Take for example a beloved aunt is attending her niece’s labor and delivery in a hospital and is HIGHLY against any medication, while the niece is prepared to take what is appropriate for keeping pain at a tolerable level. There needs to be a clear discussion about the aunt’s beliefs and her niece’s beliefs. If her aunt holds those values while in the hospital, it can cause ruckus with both the hospital staff, the niece’s state of mind and progression of labor, and make the environment not supportive to the mom.

Birth Principle – A philosophy of birth where a mother decides what she is comfortable with for location of birth, who will be at birth, interventions, pain management tools, and plans for mom and baby after birth. This is also a discussion about beliefs and values a mother has about what kind of birth she wants.

For example, a birth principle can involve thinking about your choices of birth location and provider. If you want a home birth and value the natural cascade of hormones to start labor and use natural, un-medicated interventions – it is in your principle to have either an at home birth or at a birthing center with a midwife. If you want to not feel any pain and not have any fear from pain (Please read BLANK article for more on this), a hospital birth with an ob-gyn doctor would be in your principle. If you stand in between, where you’d like to have a natural birth and will do everything you can do prepare for this, but also want the comfort of knowing there is medical intervention nearby if anything should arise, your birth principle would

What to Consider For Best Birth Possible

Out of my experience shadowing L&D nurses and seeing births, nurses and birth providers would like to see half a page written, not a detailed map of birth with all destinations pre-plotted and have to follow. To put yourself in the nurses shoes, if you have been in labor for a long time and not proceeding naturally after less intervening options (movement, positioning), they may offer to start Pitocin or another more medical intervention.  If the mother is unwilling to cooperate or has not considered this option and how they will react before they began labor – then it can be difficult for:

  1.  Mother to emotionally and mentally prepare for this change in birth
  2. Baby when stressed
  3. Nursing staff helping mother and baby cope to something that mother is either denying or trying to avoid.

But as a new mother, it’s important to know your rights and when to ask questions.



Evidenced Based Birth


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