Birth plans are ideas and expectations that you have about the birth of your baby. They are used to help people, who come into contact with you during your labor and birth, know a bit more about you, how you have prepared for this baby, and what you want from the birth.
A lot of people misunderstand and assume that you are writing orders for people to follow. Ah, if only labor would allow us to do this.
Most people have preferences for how things are to be done during the labor and birth. A birth plan might address some of the following issues:
- Do you want mobility or do you wish to be confined to a bed?
- Do you want a routine IV, a heparin/saline lock, or nothing at all?
- Do you want to wear your own clothing or a hospital gown?
- Listen to music?
- Use the tub or shower?
- Do you want pain medications or do you want to avoid them?
- Do you have preferences for which pain medications you want?
- Would you prefer a certain position in which to give birth?
- Would you like an episiotomy? Or, are there certain measures you want used to avoid one?
- If you need a cesarean, do you have any special requests?
- For home and birth center births, what are your plans in case of transport?
As you can see there are many topics that may be addressed in a birth plan. All of these topics should be discussed prenatally with your care provider. I prefer that they are written down and even signed by your care provider if you are going to a birth center or hospital, so that the people that you don't know, with whom you will come into contact with, will know your preferences.
There are many types of birth plans in written format. Some are many pages long, and some are just a single paragraph that simply "set the tone" for the birth. There is always a happy medium and only you will know what works for you.
If you need more examples of birth plans feel free to talk to your doula, childbirth educator, or breastfeeding consultant. There is even an interactive birth plan online.
Good luck and good birth!