Giving birth doesn’t have to be complicated. This simple natural birth plan will help you achieve the labor and delivery you want! Read on for how to write a minimalist birth plan that your care providers will actually read and remember!
I’ve found in life that you’re more likely to get what you want if you keep things simple. If the variables–and your expectations–are simple to begin with, it’s easier to be satisfied (and pleasantly surprised).
Case in point: I wanted another natural birth with baby #2, and I was very happy with how it all turned out! That outcome wasn’t a given, though, since I was birthing in a hospital where just a small percentage of women choose natural labor and delivery. I knew I was more likely to have the birth I wanted if I prioritized just a few things.
Weeks before the big day I Googled sample natural birth plans, hoping to find a good one I could just tweak and print out. But all the birth plans I found were way too detailed. Some even took up multiple pages, and the one-page options were still packed with tiny font. They included minutiae such as what kind of music the mother wanted, which friends and family would attend the birth, etc.
If I as the mom found these overwhelming, how much more so would the busy hospital staff!
I didn’t want to have a birth plan that nobody would read.
So, I spent about 5 minutes to type up just a few priorities, organized them with headings and bullet points, printed it off and called it good. I shared my birth plan with my doctor ahead of time, and brought a couple of copies to the hospital on the big day.
And I got everything I wanted. That’s thanks in part to the fact that it was a birth with no surprises, but also, I believe, because my birth plan was so minimalist! The nurses and staff actually read it.
Whether you want to have a “natural” birth or not, I think making a birth plan is a good call. Research your heart out about all the birth options and procedures, but then condense it down to your “must-haves” and spell those out clearly on your plan.
If you want to create a minimalist birth plan that your care team will actually read, ask yourself these questions:
1. What is my mission statement?
Choose a one-sentence summary of your birth goals. For instance, if you’re going for a natural birth, decide what “natural birth” means to you. For me, it means having as few medical interventions as possible. So my goal statement was simply: “To birth as naturally as possible, with minimal interventions and medications.” With a brief mission statement, nurses and doctors can familiarize themselves at a glance with your expectations.
2. What are my priorities for labor, delivery, and postpartum?
These are things that if they happen, you are most likely to be satisfied. Focus on identifying the things that aren’t routine procedure at your birth location, but that you want observed. (You can talk to your doctor ahead of time to determine many of these.) For instance, your hospital might typically cut the cord immediately, but you’d like to delay cord clamping.
Also, there may be things that are very important to you, but you don’t need to list. I wanted to tear as little as possible, but I didn’t need to put that on my plan because I knew my doctor (and the others in her practice) would have that same goal for their patients! In addition, I didn’t want to use formula for my baby, but I left that off the plan; at my hospital, the nurses ask the mother about her feeding intentions anyway.
3. What are my peripheral birth wishes?
What are all the minor things that are still important to you, even if they’re not included in your official plan? List these on a second, “secret” birth plan that you only share with your husband, doula, or other friends and family attending the birth. You can make this second plan as detailed as you like, listing a checklist of things to bring, natural pain relief you’ll try, reminders like “keep the lights dim” or “remind me I’m awesome,” etc. You can go over this birth plan with your husband/friend/mother ahead of time.
Sample Minimalist Birth Plan
This is the exact birth plan I used for Baby Roo! I decided to call these “birth wishes” rather than a birth plan, because I thought that sounded more polite and less demanding(:
Birth Wishes for Elsie Callender
Goal: To birth as naturally as possible, with minimal interventions and medications.
- No IV unless necessary
- Intermittent fetal monitoring preferred
- No epidural or other pain meds
- Yes to natural pain relief such as moving around the room or taking a warm shower
- Avoid episiotomy
- Delay cord clamping until cord has stopped pulsating
- Immediate skin-to-skin
- No eye ointment
- No baby bath for 24 hours
- No circumcision
- No hep B
You might feel it’s important (or necessary because of where you’re giving birth) to include more details than I did in my plan. And of course that’s fine! The takeaway, I hope, is that you’ll simplify where you can. That way your true priorities won’t get lost in the shuffle.
Postscript: If you’re expecting your own little one, you might find The Mama Natural Birth Course very helpful. It’s the #1 bestselling online childbirth course.
Also, see my blog post where 20 moms weigh in on how they managed labor pains naturally. For the postpartum days, read this post on how to find simplicity and rest in the newborn season.
If you know someone else who’s giving birth soon, check out these 10 Ways to Help a New Mom (that you might not have thought of!)