What is a Birth Plan?
A birth plan is a list of preferences on how you would like your birth experience to be. A plan helps your doctor to know your preferences regarding pain management, delivery and immediate infant care. It also acts as a good starting point to open the lines of communication with your health care team. It is important to remember that labor is often unpredictable so good communication and flexibility throughout the birth experience is vital to a positive and joyful outcome.
What things do birth plans usually cover?
- 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?
Preferences to Consider During Labor and Delivery
- 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 routinely perform episiotomies. Usually these are reserved only for urgent medical situations where the birth of the baby needs to be sped up due to the baby not tolerating pushing.
- Assisted birth- devices such as forceps or vacuum extraction are not routinely used in normal deliveries. These devices are reserved for times of urgent medical situations.
Preferences to Consider for Immediate Care of your Infant
- Cord cutting- who do you want to cut the cord? Do you want the cord cut immediately or after it has stopped pulsating.
- Holding the baby- do you want the baby put immediately onto your abdomen or do you prefer to hold your baby after he/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?
Preferences to Consider During Unexpected Events
- If you have a Cesarean section, who do you want to come back into the OR with you?
- Most of the time moms are awake and a spinal or epidural anesthesia is used so you can still experience the birth of your child.
- Your care partner will be with you and you will be able to hold your child in the operating room.