What DOES your labor nurse think of your hospital birth plan? Does it help you have a better experience?
You might wonder why I know this -- I'm Hilary -- I've been a labor nurse since 2001. After seeing thousands of patients, and hundreds of birth plans, also working with hundreds of nurses along the way -- I thought some of you might be interested to know what goes on behind the scenes with your birth plan.
What’s a birth plan?
Birth plans are simply letting your nurse know what you’d like.
We’re going to talk more about what we often see in them… But, in reality you can put whatever you want on your birth plan.
Most often, birth plans are written for the hopsital as patients are concerned they will get lost in the shuffle.
I’ve seen them in all shapes & sizes. I’ve had ones with different colored markers with stickers. I’ve had pre-done options from Baby Center printed from the internet. I even offer my own printable birth plan worksheet — which you can grab right here:
Related post: Worst parts of being a nurse
What do nurses think of birthing plans?
First off, I want to categorically state that I don’t mind birth plans. At all.
But, you might be wondering what the nurses say behind your back.
Here are the most common reactions:
Birth plans make things easier!
Yup, a lot of the stuff on your bith plan, are things we’re going to ask anyway. Your birth plan checklist might include:
- Are you planning to breastfeed?
- Do you want skin to skin?
- Are you interested in the immunizations?
- Are you going to circumcise your baby
A lot of times, those are already put on your birth plan, so it just makes less questions for you. Pretty great, right? (for both of us)
Birth plans include things we will do anyway
Often, birth plans include things like:
Yup, we don’t want those things either. We really do want to stay as much LOW INTERVENTION as possible. We have a deep understanding that it’s best for both you and your baby.
We want all those too (especially the last one)
Birth plans can make things scary
Sometimes birth plans are so stiff an inflexible — it makes us nervous. Things like:
- I do not want blood products under any circumstances
- I do not want a c-section unless my life is in grave danger
- I do not want Pitocin at any point in my labor
Some of them are valid (Jehovah’s Witnesses do not receive blood products), it makes me nervous. It also makes me worry that mother nature will show you that inflexibility isn’t your best plan, and you’ll get some push-back from her.
Have you talked to your doctor about your birth plan?
Sometimes, you show up to the hospital with a birth plan that you haven’t talked to your doctor about at all.
You’re there for an induction, but your birth plan says absolutely no IV. Guess what — if you’re getting induced, you most likely will need an IV.
Your birth plan says you want to eat the whole time, but your doctor specifically says only clear liquids.
You aren’t on the same page, at all.
If you’re planning to create a birth plan, I’d be sure to go over it with your doctor at your prenatal visits.
This birth plan is not my job.
While we have some control over who’s in your room, and what’s going on. We don’t have total control.
Sometimes birth plans specify who can be in the room (but you’ve called all your family and told them where you’re at). I’m happy to be the mean one who asks them to leave, but I can’t always be policing that.
Sometimes you want food that isn’t on our menu, or you want to eat your placenta in the room but I won’t be feeding it to you.
We also can’t control who posts on social media (and yes, we’ve had patients mad at us, for their family posting on social media). We really are there for your’s and the baby’s health. Often, we really need to focus on that — so some extraneous wishes may not happen.
Don’t make me mad….
One other thing that irks nurses is to act like you know a lot more than we do. You don’t have to explain why you don’t want a c-section in your birth plan.
You don’t need to act like we are out to get you.
You don’t need to act like your doctor is out to get you.
You need to have trust in the people who are caring for you, and if you don’t — you might want to re-think your decision of the place & people you’ve chosen to deliver your baby.
I am 100% in favor of you thinking the decisions through that you will make in labor.
I am 100% in favor of informed consent by you and your physician.
I am 100% in favor of wanting to know what you’d prefer. That makes my job easier.
I get scared when I see inflexibility on your end, to accept that this is an event that neither yourself nor myself (or your doctor) have all that much control over. I often find that women who have strict things written down on their birth plan will likely see a harder labor than those who are willing to take the labor as it comes. That’s just my experience — over 16 years of it.
Because we are dealing with the laws of nature. And the only one (in my opinion) who controls those is God.
Check out my posts on birth plan templates — and download the template below to find out what’s common on birth plans. Also, check out my other labor posts below that: