Why and How to Write a VBAC Birth Plan
Lately I’ve noticed people dismissing the idea of creating a VBAC birth plan. They claim that creating one gives the false illusion that we can control birth. I understand that fear to an extent. It’s true that we can’t control birth. But I’m still a big believer in the birth plan and think it’s a crucial step in preparing for birth – especially a VBAC. After I share the 3 reasons I think you should write a birth plan for your VBAC, I’ll share some tips for writing it and a free birth preferences worksheet you can download to help you get started. (If you’re already sold on the importance of writing your VBAC birth plan, feel free to scroll down for the tips and PDF!)
3 Reasons to write a VBAC Birth Plan
1. The process of writing a birth plan spurs you to research, learn about your options, ask questions, and get clear on your priorities. It also serves as a tool to help your partner and support team understand what matters most to you.
2. Creating a plan and list of preferences for dealing with all the “what if” situations can mean the difference between an empowered and traumatic birth. If your VBAC takes an undesired turn, you’ll be able to make informed and confident decisions more easily if you have planned for difference scenarios. Doing the research ahead of time, and thinking about what you might want to do, will help you make decisions in the moment. I’ve found time and again that people who remained in control of the decision making process during their births end up feeling more satisfied after – even in the case of challenging circumstances
3. In many settings, birthing people face the risk of medical providers dismissing or minimizing their preferences and opinions. Creating a birth plan is empowering and serves as a reminder that YOU are the one giving birth and YOU get to decide what you will and will not do. Your provider is not an authority figure who makes decisions for you about your body and your baby. The process of researching and writing a plan helps to solidify this belief and builds your confidence and strength to remember what matters most to you even at your most vulnerable points during labor and birth.
People birthing after cesarean and planning a VBAC often carry regret about their previous birth experience and express to me a deep desire to be informed, confident, and prepared for any scenario this time around. I want you to know that birth will unfold in unexpected ways and that you can’t control the course it will take. But I also want you to know that you have a right to make informed decisions and have your preferences honored.
“The process of researching and writing a plan helps to solidify this belief and builds your confidence and strength to remember what matters most to you even at your most vulnerable points during labor and birth.”
Tips for Creating your Birth Plan
- Use the VBAC Birth Preferences worksheet (you can grab it at the end of this post) to help guide your research. Look at each “thing to consider” in the right-hand column and do the research you need to do to determine your preferences. The first page has sections for during labor, during birth, and after birth. The second page is all about your preferences in case a cesarean becomes necessary. If you have a doula, they can point you in the direction of good information to help you make your decisions. It would definitely be helpful to create this with support and guidance from somebody who has experience in the field (this is a great way to use a 1:1 VBAC Clarity Session with me!) Remember that there’s no right or wrong decision about any of this. It’s going to be unique to you, your history, your current situation, and your preferences. Each person is different.
- Use the space on the left of each section to make notes about your preferences.
- Share your preferences with your support team. This includes your partner, your doula, and your obstetricians/midwives. Know that you are more prepared now to make tough decisions if they come your way.
- You can either use this worksheet as your final copy or use it as an outline to create something in the format you’d most like. I recommend phrasing things positively instead of negatively. For example, instead of writing, “I don’t want IV fluids” you might write, “I plan to stay hydrated by drinking water and would like to avoid IV fluids.”
- Have a couple extra copies in your bag to share with nurses if you’re birthing at the hospital. Remember that handing them this paper might not be enough for your preferences to be honored. Instead, it will serve as a starting point for you, your partner, and/or your doula to communicate your preferences with the hospital staff.
Grab your free birth preferences worksheet below.
I'm Taylor, your VBAC Doula
I’m a doula, doula trainer, childbirth educator, ICAN leader, cesarean mama, VBAC mama, and HBAC mama. My mission is to support VBAC hopefuls to have empowered births.
"Taylor is warm, encouraging, and assertive. She allowed me to take charge and supported my decisions. I know that is the role of a doula, but I guess I expected to be following her lead or waiting for her suggestions. In the moment of labor, I needed those around me to support me in whatever felt right in that moment. It’s like she knew my body would lead and she followed that. I felt loved and heard every step along the way."