What is a birth plan?

A birth plan is a simple, clear, 1-2 page statement of an expectant mother's preferences for her labor and birth experience.

Copies of a birth plan can be added to an expectant mother's medical records and brought to the hospital or birth center. It can be used by those acting as labor support and shared with the nurse or staff caring for the new mother.

What should be included in a birth plan?

The birth plan should include:

  • Patient's name and due date
  • Primary support person for the patient in labor
  • Name of doula (if used)
  • Hospital name where the delivery is to take place
  • Name of the expectant mother's midwife or doctor

This flexible plan should indicate the expectant mother's preferences or desires during the stages and phases of labor as well as delivery and postpartum. Remember that one plan does not fit all and each woman’s labor and birth is unique.

Considerations may include:

  • Fetal monitoring
  • IVs
  • Movement and positioning
  • The birth ball
  • Eating and drinking
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Relaxation techniques: guided imagery and visualization
  • Music
  • Aromatherapy
  • Massage/effleurage
  • Focal points
  • Breathing techniques
  • Use of heat or cold
  • Pain medication
  • Anesthesia (epidural)
  • Spontaneous pushing
  • Delayed cord clamping
  • Skin to skin
  • Breastfeeding
  • Rooming in
  • Newborn procedures and testing
  • Circumcision
  • Pacifier use

What are the benefits of having a birth plan?

A birth plan lets healthcare providers and staff know the expectant mother’s wishes during labor, delivery, and postpartum. Such a plan can help the expectant mother feel confident and in control as much as possible. A plan also can help her be part of the decision-making process, even if unexpected events occur. It is important to remember that this plan needs to be flexible to accommodate the unexpected.

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