A birth plan is a statement of your birthing preferences. It's a way for you to describe what is most important to you.
It is also the beginning of a discussion with your health care provider about choices.
You and your partner or labor companion already have an idea about what would make for a good birth experience. There are things you may want or not want done. However, each labor is unique, and no one knows what will happen. Discussing what is important to you now will help you make decisions in labor.
One in five births is a first-time Cesarean. Talk about your preferences for this kind of birth, too.
Write down your preferences and discuss them with your health care provider. If possible, have your partner or labor companion come with you.
After that discussion write up your birth plan. Ask that it be put in your hospital chart. Make several copies to take to the hospital when you're in labor. Share the plan with your nurse after you are admitted.
Have your birth plan fit on one side of a sheet of paper. That way all of it can be easily seen. Using bullet points and phrases will make it easier to read. Rather than trying to make decisions about all of the possible procedures, explain how you want to be involved in decisions.
Briefly explaining why you have a preference can also be helpful. For example, "Movement helps me cope with pain. I would like to be able to move around in labor."
A birth plan can help you be flexible because you will be able to make decisions with your preferences in mind. When you have to make a decision, ask how an option will affect your preferences. That way, you will be able to make the best decision at that time.
Some babies need additional care right after they are born. They are taken to a special care nursery.
Consider having an item in your birth plan about who goes with your baby if this care is needed.
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, sixth edition, preg-ahc-90026, ISBN 1-931876-25-8
Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
Your birth plan may include techniques for pushing and birth that you
would like to try.
Our birth plan worksheet can help you think through