Making the decision to create a natural birth plan can be a great way to organize your choices for yourself and for your baby in labor and delivery. When you are well-informed, you’re able to advocate for yourself–especially when you are in a vulnerable state (hello, labor!!). Talking with your midwife or care professional about each decision can help you to feel empowered and even more at ease once labor begins.
There may be practices or coping methods you’re really wanting to use or try. When labor starts, your mind may not be in a place to recall all of them. Having your needs and desires organized all in one place helps bring clarity to the ones caring for you.
With my first baby, I had no idea about how to even create a natural birth plan. Here, I’d love to share with you how I gathered my decisions and desires for how I envisioned my labor as well as the care of my newborn baby.
what does “natural” mean in the birth world?
The term “natural birth” has gotten tossed around lately causing the meaning to be a little blurry. I’ve spoken with some women who think it’s just refusal of an epidural. Natural birth has become quite the buzz word these days–especially with the increase in birth center and home births.
Natural birth, put simply is having a vaginal delivery without any medical interventions or medications. This can be with births in the hospital or at home. But, it’s mainly referring to the ways that women cope with the pain and discomfort of labor and delivery without medication.
why choose a natural birth?
Making the decision to have a natural birth can stem from many different motives.
Maybe you are wanting to feel empowered and connected to your body by experiencing all of the sensations of your baby moving through the birth canal.
Perhaps you have researched well and are wanting to reduce any possibilities of affecting your baby’s health with injections and drugs.
Maybe you had a negative experience with interventions and medications during a previous birth and you are wanting to redeem that story.
And maybe you are simply wanting to surrender this birth to the Lord allowing Him to show you how He is writing this story for you. And you are choosing to forego all unnecessary interruptions to the biological process He created.
The reasons are really endless as to why you are choosing to have a natural birth. Meditate on your reasons and let them be the foundations for creating your natural birth plan.
what is a natural birth plan?
A birth plan is your personal set of guidelines clearly stating your wishes and desires for you during labor and the delivery of your baby. It also displays your preferences for care of your baby after he is born.
Remember, the natural birth plan you create is not set in stone . No one can predict how their labor and delivery will go. But having your wishes clear and upfront will help your birth care team to navigate through any challenges.
I like to view natural birth plans as providing flexible structure for when labor begins. You have the roadmap for your labor and delivery. There may be some traffic, detours and pit stops on the way. But the destination remains the same: ending up with a precious baby in mama’s arms 🙂
creating a natural birth plan – choosing your labor & delivery preferences
Okay, so you’ve set your mind to having a natural labor. Now, let’s break it down into what this may actually look like for when baby starts to come. I broke my birth plan down into four different sections: Atmosphere + Comfort, Early + Active Labor, Interventions and Postpartum + Newborn Care.
Atmosphere + Comfort – I believe the atmosphere and your comfort level really sets the tone for how your labor will go. This is why I have chosen to birth my babies at home. Whether you have chose to give birth at home, a birth center or the hospital, take time to consider what makes you feel most safe and secure.
Does your body relax with certain music? Create a custom playlist
Do you prefer minimal lights? Or does having the lights brightly lit energize your body?
Would you enjoy someone massaging your back and arms or playing with your hair? Or maybe you’re someone that needs some personal space when things feel intensified.
Are there certain foods and drinks you would like to have on hand to keep your body nourished and hydrated?
early + active labor
If you have never experienced labor before, everything below may take some extra time to think through. And just because you indicate something on your plan doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind once labor hits. But this is where I personally felt very informed and empowered to make specific decisions for myself and my baby.
Labor can be beautiful, intense, serene and such a wild ride. There are so many factors that come into play and endless things that can take place. You know your body and your own medical history so make sure to consider anything that may not be in the typical realm of labor.
Do you want to have someone to coach you when to start pushing? Or do you want to listen to your body and wait until it feels absolutely ready to push.
Do you want to have the ability to get up and move around during labor? Trying out different positions to see what feels good to your body, working with your baby’s movements.
Would you like to use a mirror to see your baby’s head once it begins to crown? (I LOVED this with my first baby. I was so exhausted but when I felt his head and then used a mirror to see his full head of hair gave me the sweetest boost of energy to keep going!)
Have you thought about who you would like to catch the baby? Do you want to catch yourself? Or maybe you would like for your husband to be the first one to hold your baby. Maybe you feel the safest if your midwife or doctor is the one guiding your baby out.
If you’ve made it this far, I can only assume that your plan is to have the least amount of interventions possible. Still, “intervention” is a broad term. So there are several things here to think about how you would like to have handled.
In planning a natural birth it’s important to weigh all of the options, benefits and risks of refusing pain management. Partner with the Lord and seek His wisdom as you navigate through creating your birth plan. He ultimately knows what is best for your body and your baby.
Do you want to forgo induction and let baby come on his own?
Do you want to refuse an epidural at all pain or intensity levels?
Will you allow pitocin incase of emergencies? (I hemorrhaged during my son’s birth and I was given meds to subside the bleeding. It was something I hadn’t even considered happening so I wasn’t prepared. For my second baby’s birth I voiced to my midwife that if the same thing were to happen again, I wanted to try tinctures first and use the meds as a last resort).
Do you want to have your waters broken at a certain point or do you want to let your body do its thing and have it break in its own timing?
Would you like to have cervical checks at any point to see how much you are dilated? Or would you prefer to not know and focus on staying in tune with your body and what it’s telling you?
postpartum + newborn care
I believe postpartum is often an afterthought these days. All the focus is on labor that moms fall short in setting themselves up for success after baby has arrived. There are so many decisions for mom and baby once baby has been born that may seem insignificant but can pave the way for a blissful fourth trimester.
Once baby is born, would you like to have immediate skin-to-skin time? Would you like to ensure that dad has some skin time as well?
Do you want to delay cord-clamping for a certain time period or until the cord has turned white?
Are you declining all immediate shots for baby?
Do you want to delay giving baby a bath? (I didn’t give my second baby a bath for over a month! I bottled up that newborn smell as long as I could ;))
Are there any visitors that you would like to have? Or do you want to spend a certain amount of time with just you, your husband and baby before introducing to everyone?
There’s a lot of decisions to think through for all of these. It might help to go through them by category like my plan has them broken down. Consider each choice prayerfully and research evidence based articles if you are having a tough time making a decision. As always, speak with your midwife or care provider about your options.
how to talk with your midwife or care provider about creating your natural birth plan
I truly loved my appointments with my midwife. Each session she asked how I was feeling, checked on baby and then we would discuss a handful of decisions, preferences and scenarios that may arise.
She would offer unbiased knowledge about each topic. And then share her own opinion if I asked. I loved that I was able to sift through that information before finalizing on my birth plan.
Even though my decision to have home births required a lot of research, reading other birth stories and sorting through information – it built my confidence in my decisions. I felt empowered knowing exactly the reasoning for everything I chose when creating my natural birth plan.
The more you talk with your midwife or care provider, the more you will feel comfortable with how they will handle your labor and delivery. It will also give insight for your midwife on how you are feeling, what your fears are and provide knowledge about your body.
Your midwife may have her own format for working through each of these decisions, but bring your own to the appointments in case there is anything she may miss. It’s also important to make sure that your preferences and choices align with your midwife’s care practices. Be sure when communicating to keep an open mind. But, stay true to any convictions you may have for your family, your body and your baby.
when to start creating your natural birth plan
Many moms don’t think about writing their birth plan until labor is near–sometime in the third trimester. At this point, it can be too late to switch care providers if your choices aren’t aligning with the practice.
Starting to create your natural birth plan early also gives you plenty of time to research and really think through each topic. To really understand what decisions are best for your body.
The earlier you start creating your birth plan, the more comfortable and confident you will feel in your decisions as labor draws closer.
I’ve already mentioned it but I just want to say it again: your birth plan is not set in stone. BUT–it is important to stay true to your convictions. There’s a fine balance between ensuring that things go along with your plan and taking things as they come. Because no one can predict exactly how your labor will go.
I like to call this flexible structure. What exactly does this mean? You have your plan in front of you, in front of your care providers. But you are willing to readily adapt if necessary depending on circumstances.
writing a clear and concise birth plan that your care team will actually read
don’t make your birth plan strict and rigid
Birth plans can sometimes get a bad rap. This is because some can be very rigid, causing mothers to become upset and feel defeated when things don’t go exactly as they envisioned.
Doctor’s also can be defensive if something is presented in the plan that doesn’t line up with how they normally practice. Some requests may be tough to fulfill for mother’s that may be high risk or have special accommodations.
This is why I stress starting your plan early and communicating freely with your maternity care provider. This keeps the door open for sharing concerns, working through options and expressing desires.
keep your natural birth plan simple
Another big tip for making sure your plan is read is keeping it short and simple. Don’t write paragraphs about what you want. In the plan that I created, I used icons with a few word descriptions. I also broke it down into 4 main categories. This way anyone who takes a quick glance at it should quickly be able to find my preference.
Another added bonus is making it visually pleasing. Just typing it out and printing it with black ink on white paper is fine. But, this is birth! You’re having a baby. You’re bringing new life into this world! Make your plan fun. I have a cool tone and warm tone color options for my birth preferences template.
If working with a designed template isn’t your thing, I also provide an option to send me your list of preferences and I’ll fill them in for you.
Another great option for a birth plan is Mama Natural’s birth plan. She has a free template on her site that uses icons similarly to mine.