Birth plans are guides that parents-to-be make to help their health care providers best support them during labor and delivery.
There are lot of things to consider before you make a birth plan. This is a great time to learn about the various practices, procedures, pain relief methods, and other options that are available during childbirth.
Your birth plan can be very specific or very open. For example, some women know they want to try to have an unmedicated, or "natural," childbirth, and others know they absolutely do not want to have an unmedicated childbirth.
It's important to stay flexible. Keep in mind that some of the things you want may not be possible. So you may want to think about them as your birth preferences, rather than a plan.
- You may change your mind about certain things when you are actually in labor.
- Your provider may feel that certain steps are needed for your health or your baby's health, even though they are not what you wanted.
Talk to your partner as you make your birth plan. Also talk with your doctor or midwife about your birth plan. Your provider can guide you in medical decisions about the birth. You may be limited in your choices because:
- Your health insurance coverage may not cover every wish in your birth plan.
- The hospital may not be able to provide you with some of the options you may want.
Your doctor or midwife can also talk to you about risks and benefits of some of the options you want for your birth. You may have to fill out forms or releases ahead of time for certain options.
Once you've completed your birth plan, be sure to share it with your doctor or midwife well before your delivery date. Also, leave a copy with the hospital or birthing center where you will deliver your baby.
Your doctor, midwife, or the hospital where you will deliver may have a form that you can fill out to create a birth plan.
You can also find sample birth plans and templates in books and websites for pregnant moms.
Even if you use a form or checklist to write your birth plan, you can add other preferences that the form does not address. You can make it as simple or detailed as you like.
Below are many of the things you may want to think about as you create your birth plan.
Hawkins JL, Bucklin BA. Obstetrical anesthesia. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 16.
Kilpatrick S, Garrison E. Normal labor and delivery. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 12.