What's a Birth Plan? Here’s Why You May Want to Create a List of Preferences for Labor & Delivery by 30Seconds Pregnancy
Your baby's birth is the wonderful climax of nine months of hopes and dreams, and the beginning of an incredible new chapter in your life. But childbirth itself is often a complex journey, and no two births are quite the same. There’s a whole lot to think about and decide upon, and a birth plan can help.
A birth plan is a helpful, non-confrontational way for you to make your labor and delivery preferences known to those who will be with you on D-day. There are many things to consider when creating your birth plan – from whether or not you want pain meds to whether or not you want to “room in” – that thinking it through it all in advance is key. While many things are consistent among health care providers and hospitals, you'll likely find differences among them. Without putting together a plan, you may be given their “standard” treatment, whatever that may be.
Having a formal birth plan to share with your family, health care providers and hospital will show you are in the know about what to expect and that your preferences are quite clear. Some advantages of writing your birth plan:
- You can express in writing your preferences, including information such as that you are expecting a routine birth and/or only the most common complications (don’t worry, birth plans do not override medically necessary procedures).
- Many health care providers welcome input and appreciate that you have taken the time to think everything through. Showing that you have educated yourself and that you want to take an active role in labor and delivery makes an impact.
- Because many people need to understand your preferences (including hospital staff as well as your coach or doula), a birth plan gives you a clear way to deliver the same message to everyone. You never know who may be “on call” when it's time to deliver your baby. Having the written plan makes it easy for anyone to get up to speed quickly.
- Putting together a birth plan allows you to learn in advance about things you may not have thought of before – from anesthesia and fetal monitoring to cord blood, lactation consultants and more. Learning about the terms and procedures helps demystify the process of labor and delivery. Knowledge is power!
- Your birth plan is a list of preferences, not a contract. So don’t worry if you change your mind about something – such as taking photos, listening to music, pain meds, circumcision, etc. – your wishes should be respected regardless.
Remember that even the most comprehensive birth plan won't take the place of thorough communication with your doctor or midwife. It is not a substitute for doing your research and sharing your thoughts with family and health care providers. But it is a very helpful tool for knowing what your options are and thinking through every stage of your labor and delivery. Hopefully by creating your birth plan, you will feel that much closer to creating the birth experience you want as you welcome your baby into the world.
Get started on writing your birth plan right now!