1) It gets the birthing person and their partner/support people on the same page.
2) It's a great tool to share with your hypno-doula so she can work to help make this birth YOUR dream birth. A good doula leaves her personal preferences at the door and works hard to help you achieve your goals.
3) Despite some concerns to the contrary within the birth world, in my experience health care providers, especially nurses and midwives, DO read them and try to help their clients get as many of their preferences as they can.
Check out this amazing birth plan one of my student recently created and scroll down to read why I think it's amazing!
#1 It's so pretty and simple! Easy for a nurse to read quickly and get to know the client. Since this couple was only at the hospital for one hour with their speedy, first Hypnobabies birth, that's important!
#2 It covers the important things like who will cut the cord and who will announce the sex of the baby but doesn't waste time on things that are unimportant or not how things work at this particular hospital. Birth preferences should be tailored to the location and provider group catching the baby.
#3 This mom intends to not find out her dilation numbers. I love this idea because the numbers are pretty darn meaningless. IF a mom is going to make a big decision about an intervention then I think in order to have fully informed consent a mom may want to know her numbers. But in a regular, straightforward birth it is very rarely helpful and usually causes tension and lots of "bad math" as we talk about in class! 5 cm is much more than halfway to 10 cm/fully dilated!
#4 It thanks the care providers for routinely providing evidence-based care like intermittent fetal monitoring, "delayed" (actually optimal or physiological) cord clamping, freedom of movement, skin to skin immediately after birth, etc. If only every provider group did this! Unfortunately we know it takes about 15 years for evidence to become standard practice so many groups are still following routine practices that are NOT evidence-based.
To be clear... the shorter your birth plan can be, the more aligned your care provider is with the type of birth you want. If you feel like you need to write a birth plan that says "we don't want this.... we don't want that..." and especially if your care provider balks at any of your wishes, strongly consider switching providers! It's easier than you think. Find a new provider and ask them to call your old provider to get medical records. No need to break-up with your current provider! Though if you want to let them know why you are switching it's possible it could help future patients. Up to you!
Hypnobabies students will learn a ton about birth preferences and be given a sample birth preferences document during week three of class or the home study. You should then start to work on your preferences and start having conversations with your care provider. Plan to bring up 2-3 topics each appointment as time allows. It's important to ask very clear and specific questions. If you say to your OB "I want to push in any position I choose" they will likely say "sure of course, we do that." BUT, if you ask "How many babies have you caught with a mom on her hands and knees or in a squat or out of bed in the last month?" you may get a very different response! To that end I have only seen a couple OB births where the mom wasn't on her back at the end. Sure, for most of the pushing stage moms "can" try different positions and most nurses will support that, but the vast majority of times when the OB comes in (for the last 10 minutes or so) they will strongly pressure the birthing person to get on their back to push their baby out. Compare that to one midwife I know who proudly wears a "Midwives do it in any position" shirt!
If you say "I want delayed cord clamping" they will say "we do that" but if you specify you want the cord to pulsate for at least 5 minutes you might get a different response. Unfortunately some obstetric providers seem to be in a big hurry to get out of the room after baby arrives and I've seen folks say the cord is done pulsating when it clearly isn't. Parents are so vulnerable during this time so it's much easier to just find a provider who does this routinely if it's important to you.
Births can't be "planned" but you can and should have a clear understanding of your personal preferences for your baby's birth and your baby's care after birth and a team who is 100% on board with those goals!