A birth plan is a list of preferences on how you would like your birth experience to be. A plan helps your doctor know your wishes about pain management, delivery and infant care. It also serves as a starting point to open the communication lines with your healthcare team. Please remember that labor can be unpredictable, so good communication throughout the birth process is key to a positive outcome.
These items generally are covered in a birth plan:
- What are your wishes during a normal labor and delivery?
- How do you prefer your baby to be treated immediately after delivery and in the first few days of life?
- What are your wishes in the case of unexpected events?
Below are some examples of preferences to consider during labor:
- Atmosphere: Do you want music? low lighting? DVD players and TVs are available in all rooms.
- Pain management: Do you prefer non-medicinal methods such as massage, meditation, shower/water therapy, walking around the room with frequent position changes? Or do you prefer IV pain medication or an epidural?
- Episiotomies: Most doctors no longer perform episiotomies except in urgent situations where the birth of the baby needs to be sped up.
- Assisted birth: Devices such as forceps or vacuum extraction rarely are used in normal deliveries these days.
Here are items to consider for immediate care of your infant:
- Cord cutting: Which person do you want to cut the cord? Do you want the cord cut immediately or do you want to wait a few minutes?
- Holding the baby: Do you want the baby placed on your chest right away? Or do you prefer to hold your baby after he or she has been assessed and cleaned?
- Feeding: Are you going to breastfeed or bottlefeed?
- Circumcision: If your baby is a boy, do you want him circumcised?
Consider these preferences during unexpected events:
- If you have a Cesarean section, do you want someone to be in the OR with you?
- Most of the time, moms are awake and a spinal or epidural anesthesia is used so that they can still experience the baby’s birth. Is that your wish?
View a sample birth plan to help create the birth experience that is right for you.