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I hate birth plans.

Ok, I know it's important to talk about options and get things down on paper, but hear me out. I hate the term "birth plan" because you can't plan a birth. Anything can happen, so calling it a birth plan sets up the family for disappointment if things don't go the way they hoped and also rubs a lot of nurses and providers the wrong way. However, I truly believe in families going into birth with lots of information and an idea of what decisions they'd make under certain circumstances.

So let's work on changing our terms. "Birth Preferences" is what I like to use with my clients. So here are my tips for writing your Birth Preferences.

1. Keep it short and sweet. ONE PAGE! Just like a resume, nobody is going to read the second page!

2. Include the names of the mother, her partner or any other loved one attending the birth, and her doula. Nurses especially love to have a cheat sheet to peek at if they've forgotten someone's name.

3. Three sections usually works nicely, and a list format is great. The first section should include preferences for induction, intervention and pain med options, the second for newborn care, and the third should express preferences in the case of a c-section.

4. Bold or highlight the things that are MOST important to you.

5. Get it done by 36 weeks and bring it in to a visit with your doctor or midwife to go over your wishes. This makes sure everyone is on the same page and there are no surprises when you are actually in labor.

6. Leave a copy with your doctor or midwife to put in your chart, put 2 copies in your hospital bag, and send a copy to your doula.

7. Go with the flow and be kind to yourself if your birth goes down a different path than you hoped for.

Remember, the best choice is an informed one. Educate yourself and hire a doula!

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