Welcome to SeattleBirthNet: Create My Birth plan Childbirth Education and Labor Support for Expectant Families
Welcome to SeattleBirthNet's interactive, evidence-based birth plan tool. This tool assumes that you are your own best educator and provides you with an opportunity to make decisions for you and your baby based on what research shows is the best option.
Why call it a birth plan when you have no way of actually planning your birth? Birthing is a time when your body and baby work together to bring about life. It is difficult to plan exactly how that will happen. By creating this birth plan, and clicking on the links to understand what options you have and why you might or might not want them, you are building your own vocabulary to advocate for yourself at the hospital, and with nursing staff and doctors. If you are planning a birth center or home birth, it will help you in the event of a transfer, which, though unpleasant to think of, can occur smoothly with a good plan and good communication. Think of these as your preferences and then be ready for anything by educating yourself (a doula is also a great resource in the birthing room!)
What kind of Birth Plan should you bring to the hospital with you? Unfortunately, I have seen a strange effect of birth plans on nurses at our local hospitals. Instead of looking at your birth plan and attributing it to a couple who has taken the time to educate themselves thoroughly and then make decisions based on evidence and personal preference, many nurses attribute a well thought out birth plan to over-zealousness or a hard-headed women.
The fact is that if you look at your birth plan as if it is the end-all of options you will even consider, you are setting yourself up: birth is a crazy winding road and we can't see what is coming around the bend. If you choose to be in a hospital for your birth, then not only can you not see what is coming around the bend, you also can't predict what so many people's responses will be to what happens. If you want control over the miriad of options available to you during childbirth, consider a home or birth-center birth with a midwife, where you will truly be the team leader. To learn more about the differences in care, click here
The remedy.... Presenting a birth plan that gives them a general picture of what you want is a great way to introduce your educated, knowledgeable, research-based decision making powers!
What does that actually look like? You can see a sample to the right.
So why bother with all of the details? I would recommend going through all of your options and making a second part to your birth plan, which you bring into your room with you. Set it on the table and refer to it when needed. Share it with your nurse after you are settled and she gets to see what an amazing, glorious laboring mama you are! Tell her you did a lot of research and wrote down more details about your preferences for your partner or doula to refer to in case questions come up. If it would be helpful to her, she is welcome to look at them. The most effective way to get what you want is to talk about it along the way. An example would be talking with your doctor ahead of time about letting the cord pulse. Then close to delivery, your spouse can say, 'hey doc, remember we talked about letting the cord stop pulsing before you clamp it'. Your doula can prompt you to say these things along the way as well.
The other option, if it is important to you to get it all down on paper and show them up front, is just to do it in a concise, one-page format. That looks like this:
When you click 'next' below, you will be taken to a list of most of the options you will need to make decisions about during labor and delivery and parenting of your newborn. Read through the explanations. Make informed, educated decisions. Seek additional information by viewing evidence based websites. (such as childbirthconnection)
Take notes and create your own document to bring with you. Consider writing a letter like the one above to put either as your cover page or to use for your own reference once you are in labor and to offer a glance of to your nurse after she gets to know you a bit.
The lesson we have learned from the recent trend of nurses who ignore or even laugh at birth plans is that you always need to be your own best advocate. This means understanding your choices ahead of time, and bolsters the argument for having a doula with you who can not only provide a lot of physical and emotional comfort, but also act as your personal dictionary--to let you know what the options are, what the potential consequences for those options are, what the research shows about those options, and what her experience has shown her about them. Your doula can not save you from the protocols of the hospital, but she can help you see your choices clearly so that you can become the heroine of your own birth story.
In the state of Washington, every person has the Right to Refuse Care. If you don't want something that your provider or hospital staff are offering, and you feel pushed into it, you can tell them you are invoking your Right to Refuse Care and will sign a document saying so.