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How do I create a birth plan?
Q: How do I go about creating a birth plan? What do I need to think about?
Kathy Mt. Laurel
A: Creating a birth plan can help you and your partner think your personal ideals for your labor and birth experience. If you choose to attend a childbirth education class, it is likely that your instructor will help guide you through the process of creating a birth plan. If you don’t have a class, you can read about labor and delivery and discuss your preferences with your birth partner. Discussing your birth plan with your health care provider will help you anticipate the kinds of choices that you may face during labor, and give you realistic feedback about the level of flexibility that your birth centre/hospital allows.

A birth plan is not a blueprint for labor, but rather a guide for you and your birth team. The best birth plans allow for the uncertainties of labor, and incorporate much flexibility, acknowledging that each labor is unique and unpredictable.

Generally, your birth plan will cover topics such as:

1) How to make your hospital experience most comfortable for you
  • Preferences for mobility during labor

  • People you wish to be present in the labor room

  • Food or drink you’d prefer during labor

  • Music or ambiance choices for the labor room

  • 2) Your preferences for each stage of labor and for a vaginal delivery
  • Relaxation tapes, massage, shower, movement

  • Pain relief: deep breathing, medications/epidural

  • Fetal monitoring, intravenous lines

  • Positions you’d like to try during pushing stage of labor

  • Ways you’d like to minimize the chances of episiotomy

  • 3) Your desires for your baby's first few hours of life
  • Partner to cut the cord, bathe the baby

  • Medications for the baby: antibiotic eye ointment, vitamin K

  • Breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact after delivery

  • 4) Your preferences in the event that complications arise during labor.
  • Vacuum or forceps

  • If cesarean section is necessary, partner to be present, choice of music during the surgery, how soon to breast feed in recovery

  • If you would like additional information, please read my article on birth plans. And good luck on your journey.
Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist