A Visual Birth Plan
If you're in the process of creating a birth plan, then check out this "visual" birth plan I created using Power Point and icons for a much easier-to-read template for your team!
I loved creating a birth plan for both my pregnancies, although in both cases I never even shared it outside my husband, doula and a quick glance from my OB. But despite that, it gave me an opportunity to think about all aspects of the birth and make informed decisions ahead of time instead of being pressured into a quick decision in the moment.
Create it with the help of your partner so you are both on the same page with certain procedures and then he or she can be relied upon to be your voice when you are unable to speak up for yourself... as I've experienced!
A strong word of advice, though, is try not to get too hung up on your specifics.
Birth is a crazy journey, especially the first time, and you just don't know really how it's going to turn out. Giving yourself the freedom to be flexible is key, knowing that how it turns out is probably not in your control! My first wasn't but I was still able to have a beautiful, calm birth and was so grateful for the team that surrounded me during that moment because they supported me all the way and assisted me in achieving my "birth requests" to the best the situation allowed. See: Melina's Birth Story
In preparing for the arrival of our second child, I recently sat down to create my "Birth Requests" again. I like using the word requests as they are simply just that. I haven't come across too many moms that can tell me their birthing experience went exactly as their "plan".
In a few of the mom groups I follow on Facebook, I started seeing these really cool plans that were done with visual icons rather than just wordy paragraphs on a sheet of paper. It really resonated with me as an easy to read way of communicating my preferences. My first time around, my birth preferences took up about 3 pages of paper, which was mostly copied and pasted from a few of my birth-prep sources.
Who was going to sit down and take the time to read all that? My wonderful doctor, at one of our third-trimester appointments, did, but she had the time during one of several of our third trimester check-ups.
In the end I actually never printed out any additional copies for the staff at the hospital but I had time to talk to them one-on-one because of the special circumstances under which I was admitted early. Even though my second birth was spontaneous, I still had the time after checking in to triage to communicate most of my requests to the nurses. And I answered questions along the way. Most importantly to me, my "team" that consisted of my husband, doula and doctor were aware of my requests and ready to help me based on them.
I googled "birth plan icons" and got some great inspiration from the pictures of how to put together my own. I posted mine on a birthing prep group on Facebook and got a lot of positive response and requests to share, which I am more than happy to do!
So here it is with the links to all my sources that you can download and customize to your own if you wish to do so.
My one-page "Birth Requests" sheet was created in Power Point on an iMac (conversion to a PC-based power point program should work but may through off formatting slightly, just fyi). If you're familiar with the program, it should be very easy to customize to your own. Although all the available icons from the two sources I used are in the extra slides on the power point file, these are the two direct links to the original source:
If you found this helpful, please let me know by leaving a comment below!