Birth plan creation can certainly be a useful tool. By creating a birth plan, families learn about options, procedures, policies, providers, and more. There is much to be gained by exploring possibilities!
That being said, traditional birth plans can often change due to the fault of no one. You cannot predict or control a birth, no matter how many pages a birth plan is.
By creating a values-based birth plan in addition to another birth plan or in place of, families can live out their values regardless of the specifics and outcome of the birth.
To start, go through the list of values here. What values stick out to you? Highlight 3 of them that describe the way you live your life, marriage, envision parenting. Those 3 values will most likely be easily applied to how you would like to experience this birth.
Write down those 3 values. Come back to them as often as you need to.
Identify 5 action steps that you can take during a birth that will live out these 3 values. This part is very important:
Make sure these action steps can be actualized through any type of birth experience and they are not specific outcome dependent.
Ashley and her husband have been married for two years. While they are not technically newlyweds, they are still learning about each other each day. Learning about each other's tendencies, stress triggers, happy places, favorite meals, etc. Going through the values-based birth plan, Ashley identifies 3 values that can sum up the way she would like to feel and experience the birth of their first child.
3 Values to bring into the birth:
1. Tradition. She is the youngest of 3 daughters, and feels a sense of tradition and familiarity with the role of being a mother. It comforts her and she often talks to her sisters for guidance and advice about becoming a mom. A tradition in her family is her mom comes to the hospital right after the baby is born (as she did this with both of her sisters) bringing a Bundt cake for the new parents and a swaddle for the baby. Ashley is looking forward to experiencing this tradition and it helps her keep her looking forward to the birth. The whole experience of being the youngest daughter and having older sisters and nieces and nephews helps her feel empowered to continue on.
2. Science. Ashley's background is in nursing and she appreciates it when people can explain procedures and processes in a scientific way. She knows that regardless of what is being said in the delivery room, if the scientific reasoning can be explained, she will feel so much more relief just due to how information is delivered.
3. Humor. Ashley and her husband met at a comedy club and find comedy in all forms to be one of their favorite things as a couple. If something can be made funny, or said in a sarcastic way... it helps her calm down from intense situations. If the birth is taking a while, watching a comedy (movie or TV) will help her pass the time in the best happy way possible.
Notice how these 3 values of "tradition", "science" and "humor" can be applied to any birth outcome; vaginal, cesarean, epidural, no epidural. By using a values-based birth plan, the birth plan does NOT need to change when/if changes in outcome happen. There can still be the feeling of tradition. There can still be science behind the process. There can still be humor and a light feeling in the room.
Now, 5 action steps to live out these values for Ashley could look something like,
1. Ask care providers to explain all reasoning behind medical decisions. Inform staff of nursing background asked to be spoken to in a way that utilizes the knowledge.
2. Bring the iPad so Netflix can be watched to help pass the time and make us laugh.
3. Call mom when active labor starts so she has a heads up as to when to come to the hospital.
4. Bring photo of sisters at the last family reunion to put next to the bed, to remind me of happy times and that I am not alone.
5. Have a doula that can talk in brief, concise and factual sentences without the fluff that can also explain what is happening and then help lighten the mood with some humor when the time is right.
The values-based birth plan is great for anyone who may feel overwhelmed with options, and just wants to narrow down what is really important to them for the birth. It is also good for someone planning a very specific birth, and can help families communicate what their actual end-goals are and the most satisfying way to meet that goal.
For a full copy of the template, email Krystal at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to download.
When downloading the Values-Based Birth Plan Template, you agree not to share or distribute this document and the information in it. You may print or download for your personal and non-commercial use only. You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially utilize the content. Doulas and childbirth educators: If you would like your clients to have access to this, they are welcome to contact me for the full PDF. You may not distribute this in your business, class, etc.