How to Create a Birth Plan

I did not create a birth plan before Grady was born. I didn't know a lot about pregnancy or birth, and I figured that the medical professionals were the experts, so I decided my birth plan was to have no expectations, no plans, and just go with the flow.

And I got lucky. Very lucky. Grady's delivery was uncomplicated. The hospital was extremely busy the night he was born so Shawn and I were pretty much left alone right up until the last two hours or so when a birthing room finally opened up and I was moved from the assessment area.

I was lucky (I didn't need a birth plan because everything went so smoothly) but I also could have had a better (possibly shorter) birth. I spent six hours in the assessment room with at least three other women, all of us confined to a hospital bed and separated by nothing but a curtain. There was no room to move so I stayed put and it wasn't until I walked from the assessment room to the birthing room that my labour finally started progressing quickly (and within an hour I was pushing and within another hour Grady was born). No one told me I had to stay in the bed but I didn't know what else to do (and didn't trust my body). This time around, whether I'm stuck in assessment or given a birthing room right away, my plan is to stay upright and let gravity do its work. I want to walk. I want to squat. I want to feel free to move however I want to move.

I also could have had a much less painful birth. I wasn't left completely alone during my time in assessment but my interactions with the nurses consisted of them checking Grady's heart rate and being satisfied with Grady's heart rate. That's it. I didn't specify what type of pain management I wanted so the nurses didn't know there would be a (panicked) request for an epidural and by the time I asked for one, it was too late. I'm not 100% set on having an epidural this time, having seen the benefits of an epidural-free birth last time, but I want it to be an option.

I was lucky that even though I didn't know to request them, avoiding episiotomies and immediate skin-to-skin are both standards of care at the hospital where I gave birth. This time around, I know I want delayed cord clamping as well (which isn't the standard of care here yet but my OB is supportive and says she sees it becoming more accepted).

Obviously I know that creating a birth plan doesn't dictate how this birth will happen. I know that I have very little control over what my body does but I want to feel like I have a measure of control over what is done to my body, or at least feel like an active participant.

But I need help. How do I create my birth plan? Do I need an itemized list? Paragraphs and justifications and the research to back it up? Do I need colour-coded tabs? My list of preferences is relatively small (freedom to move, freedom to eat and drink if desired, pain management on demand but not offered aka don't offer me the epidural as soon as I walk in the door but TELL ME before it becomes no longer feasible to have one, no episiotomy, immediate skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping, minimal medical interference within the first hour) but important to me and how I feel about giving birth.

Did you have a birth plan? How did you present it to the medical staff? Were you glad you had one / didn't have one? Or did you regret it? Most importantly (to me!): Am I missing anything?