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What is a birth plan?

Posted by Be Well

What is a birth plan?
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A birth plan is a written plan of how you would like to give birth. Although it is impossible to know in advance what kind of experience you'll have, it can be a good idea to think about some of the options you might face. It allows you to make decisions about the management of your childbirth experience so that you won't have to make them during labor.

Carefully word your birth plan and try not to make it sound like a list of demands. Use it as your chance to explain things that really matter to you. But remember, the best birth plans acknowledge that things may not go according to plan.

What you could include

Your birth plan can include factors such as:

  • where you would like to give birth (home birth, at hospital),
  • what kind of delivery you would like (in bed, in water, a caesarean section),
  • who you would like to be present at the birth (husband, partner, mother, friend),
  • what delivery position you would like to be in (sitting, standing, squatting), and
  • what pain relief methods you would prefer (pethidine, epidural, or just gas and air).

Other details about the birth can also be noted, such as:

  • whether you would like music,
  • if you want an injection to speed up the delivery of the placenta, or if you want it to be natural,
  • how you feel about an assisted birth or caesarean section if things don't go to plan,
  • where you would like your birthing partner to stand (at your head etc),
  • if you would like the baby to be placed on your stomach after birth,
  • whether you would prefer your baby to be breastfed or bottle fed,
  • who you would like to cut the umbilical cord, and
  • whether you give consent to have student nurses, midwives or doctors present.

If you have a disability and require any special treatment, note this in your birth plan. You should also note down if you have any particular religious needs or if you require a special diet while in hospital.

Writing your birth plan

You don't have to write out your birth plan all in one go. You can add and change things in it as you learn more about the childbirth experience from prenatal classes, books or from talking to other mothers. You may find it useful to talk your ideas through with your midwife.

Making a birth plan can also inspire you to discuss your ideas with your partner or the person who will be your birthing partner.

Who to give it to

You don't necessarily have to give your birth plan to anyone, you can just keep it as a reminder of the decisions that you and your partner have made about the birth. However, you may decide to give it to your midwife or obstetrician. You can arrange for a copy of your birth plan to be placed in your notes, so that it is available when you come into the hospital in labor.

NOTICE: The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on Wellsphere. If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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