Build Your Own Visual Birth Plan is a simple perspective piece. It is not to be taken as medical advice.
Let's talk about a visual birth plan template.
I'm sure everyone is jumping up and down with excitement! Actually, if you are committed to developing your visual birth plan, then you are here with a purpose.
Here's the purpose I hope you are here for. If you are here, you want to learn a bit more about visual birth plans and why they can be so beneficial for your labor and delivery.
Let's jump in.
Disclaimer, I am not a medical professional. I am simply a mother that enjoys researching and developing content that benefits herself and other like-minded mothers.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please view my full disclosure here.
Wise Birth Doula Services
Before we jump any further into birth plans, I want to introduce you to my own personal doula for my second birth.
Wise Birth Doula Services is extraordinary, she has enjoyed looking through my visual birth plan. As a nurse and doula she has explained many of the 'whys' to the medical procedures done throughout delivery and childbirth. As we will discuss below, it is important for you to know why you want what you want on your birth plan. A doula is an excellent way to have that support.
I highly recommended Corrine and Wise Birth Doula Services .
What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is a simple way of planning and organizing your preferences in a way that prepares you for birth, prepares your partner for birth, and allows your birth medical team to access your preferences without disturbing you during labor.
Did you notice that I highlighted simply above? I did this on purpose. The entire format of a birth plan is to provide the item in birth, delivery, and newborn care, which is most important to you as the parents.
The easiest way to provide simple and concise information is to make it visual.
Three Reasons for a Visual Birth Plan
When I was researching visual birth plans for my first pregnancy, I was frustrated with the sheer amount of information out there. Everyone claims to have the best format for communicating with your birth team during delivery.
Here's the best piece of advice I can give you concerning birth plans:
YOU GET TO DECIDE WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU!
I hate writing in all capital letters because it seems like I'm yelling, but in this case, I totally am. Find which birth plan format works best for you and then stick to it, don't let anyone (including me) tell you that our way is the only way.
Personally, I think the visual birth plan is best for 3 reasons.
1.It's visual for our visual husbands
I'm doing a bit of gender stereotyping here, so please forgive me. However, most men are visual. They like quick information that isn't hard to read.
2. It's Visual for the Medical Professionals
If you have decided on a home birth or a birth center, I am so happy for you! You will be receiving different attention than most mothers. I would love to have a home birth, but that is not what works for our family. Most mothers deliver in a hospital with multiple mothers needing care. Nurses are assigned to multiple patients.
As your pain level increases, and the hormones course through your body, you might have the feeling that you are the most important patient that these medical professionals are assigned to.
You might be down the hall from a mother that is suddenly faced with a C-section. You might be down the hall from a mother that is losing blood. There is no way of knowing what else is going on in that hospital in each moment.
Take some time to not only consider your own needs but the needs of the medical professionals that are attending to you.
Provide them with a simple visual birth plan that visually emphasizes the things that are most important to you. Give them 'at a glance' information that aids you AND them to best and safely deliver your baby.
3. Visual is organized
I know some people prefer to write out everything in sentence format, but I will hold tight to the view that sentence format is slow to read. Visual allows quick access to your choices.
A Birth Plan Doesn't Solve Everything
I hate to tell you this, but just because you have a birth plan, it does not mean that everything will go according to plan.
However, it does help you analyze what is best for you and your baby, it helps bring to mind things that you may have not considered before, and it's a great tool for your birth team to get to know you.
I am a planner and having a birth plan is important to me. I know many mommas out there that have no desire to sit down and write something up. They just go in and have the baby. That's completely fine if that's you.
Below is my first birth plan. 6 out of the 19 items went according to plan. And that's okay. I actually didn't even give the birth plan to the nursing staff. I simply had my husband review it before the birth and help me advocate for those things that were most important.
Birth plans are resources to help your childbirth experience, not control the childbirth experience.
Formats and Graphics
In full disclosure, this is the place where I got my first graphics. I really like the idea, but it took me a long time to download and organize the graphics. It just didn't have everything that I wanted in a visual birth plan.
Below is my second visual birth plan that I have used to plan my upcoming delivery. It is completely customizable to meet each mother's standards.
There are three main sections to our customized birth plan.
- Newborn Care
Within each, there are many options to consider.
Avoid the Obvious in a Visual Birth Plan Template
One thing that I have learned about writing a good birth plan is to avoid the obvious. There is a certain standard of care that your medical staff will want to provide. Things like 'avoid c-section', 'let my partner stay with me', 'ask for consent for pain medication', etc. are all standards of care that generally speaking most medical professionals already want for you.
They don't need to be on your birth plan.
Don't be Trendy in your Visual Birth Plan
If it's going to be on your birth plan, know why it's on your birth plan. The last thing you want is for a nurse or doctor to ask you why you desire something and your answer to be 'I don't know.
Know in advance why you want what you want and share that reasoning with your birth team. If you want them to take your birth plan seriously, know why you want what you want.
For example, I want to use essential oils because they are soothing to me. Not because I necessarily expect them to help with pain management.
I don't want to use an epidural because of how it affects the baby as well. Nitrous Oxide has lesser known effects on babies than epidurals. However, my husband knows that if I'm exhausted by a long delivery, I will choose an epidural. After 32 hours of labor and no sleep, I chose an epidural with my 1st child at between 6 and 7 cm dilated. I was too exhausted to go any further and what was best for my baby, and I was to get some rest.
Ask yourself why you want what you want. Why are low lights important to you? Why is wearing your own clothes important, why do you plan to use breathing techniques for pain management, or an epidural, or any other
Don't Ask for things that Leave you or the Baby at risk
I was surprised to learn recently that asking for limited cervical exams, limited fetal monitoring or no IV, is rather unlikely. These are things done for the safety of you and your baby.
I continue to leave 'limited cervical exams' on my birth plan because it's important to me. If you feel strongly about something, continue to be an advocate for yourself with the assumption that your medical team wants what is best for you and your baby.
Your FREE Visual Birth Plan Graphics
These are simply ideas to get you started on a birth plan. It's easy to use Canva, a Word Processing Program, or Powerpoint to organize the graphics provided. However, if you want more than just the FREE graphics below, make sure to check out the custom listing available! I would love to organize your birth plan for you!
Labor: Leading up to transition and pushing
- Pain Meds only by request
- Planned epidural
- Let me use essential oils
- Labor in water
- Let me wear my own clothes
- Freedom of Movement
- Nitrous Oxide for Pain Management
- Limited Cervical Exams
- Limited Fetal Monitoring
- Labor on Exercise Ball
- Low Light
- Quiet Please
- Natural Birth Planned
- Breathing techniques for pain management
Delivery: Final Pushing Stage and Baby Born
- Daddy cut cord
- Delay cord clamping
- Do not cut me
- No episiotomy
- I prefer a natural tear
- No students please
- No Pitocin, Let Placenta delivery naturally
- Let me see my placenta
- Push only with urge
- Baby is breastfed
- Baby is bottle fed
- Ask me about ALL shots, vitamins, pacifiers
- No pacifier
- No sugar waters
- No HEP B Vaccine
- Do not separate
Other Pregnancy Resources
There are many other resources out there to help you during your pregnancy. If you embrace the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, you might find this post helpful . Pregnancy can be really tough. My first pregnancy was one of the worst times of my life. This book on Redeeming Childbirth change my perspective and gave me hope during my second pregnancy.
What other pregnancy resources have you found the most helpful?