Making a Birth Plan

A birth plan outlines what you want your ideal birth to be like. It helps you talk with your doctor or midwife about any choices or compromises beforehand.

Keep in mind

Three big things to think about when writing a birth plan:

  • Know your choices
  • Keep it short
  • Stay open-minded

Learn about your choices

Your birth plan should outline the kind of care you get during childbirth. It includes the painkillers you may want to how bright you want the lights in the birth room. Here are some helpful sources:

  • Your doctor or midwife
    • Ask about what they normally do
    • Ideally, you know what your doctor's philosophies are, but now that the big day is close you might have more questions
  • Other moms
    • Often, hearing stories from other moms brings up things you may not have thought about
  • Childbirth training class
    • Your teacher should go over the pros and cons of the ways to handle pain
    • Should give you a general idea of what your time during labor will be like
    • There are many types of classes such as breastfeeding, baby CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) or "mouth-to-mouth" and even a class on writing a birth plan
    • Tour the hospital or birth center
    • Find out the staff's outlook and level of skill
    • Ask questions, like what kind of breastfeeding support do you have, will a baby be able to stay in the room with the mother after a C-section and do private rooms cost extra
    • Books and trusted websites can help you learn about your basic choices for labor, childbirth, after-childbirth healing and newborn care

Short and simple

Ideally, your birth plan write-up should be one page or less

  • It should have:
    • The name of your doctor
    • Family member(s) to call if you need urgent care
    • Food or drug allergies
  • Your birth philosophy in a short sentence or two
  • Any preferences for after the baby is born
    • Private room
    • Special food
    • No bottle for the baby
  • Talk with your doctor beforehand about anything that you want

Copy for doctor

When you're done with your plan, leave a copy with your doctor or midwife. You should also:

  • Keep more copies in the bag to take with you
  • Make sure your birth coach knows what you want. Even if you're awake, you may be too overwhelmed by labor to speak up (whether you're on pain medicine or not)
  • Ask your nurse to read your plan and include it in your chart once you're admitted

Be willing to change your mind

It's okay to change plans once you are in labor. Don't forget:

  • The purpose of the birth plan is to tell those who will care for you what you want and to give you input into big health choices
  • You may be in more pain than you thought
  • On the other hand, if you said you wanted pain medicine but your labor progressed quickly, don't worry about going without
  • There might be a problem with your labor and you may need a C-section

If something happens, you may be given an epidural (a way to place drugs for pain in the lower back).

Things may not go as you thought. Giving birth is unpredictable from start to end. All you can do is make sure you know your choices beforehand and choose based on what you know at the time.

Many women find that the ups and downs of labor itself pale when compared to having a healthy baby at the end.

[references] Copyright © 2010 LimeHealth

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