Make A Birth Plan

[Adapted from The Expectant Parents' Companion, by Kathleen Huggins, Copyright © 2006, used by permission of The Harvard Common Press.]

After you have learned about the policies and typical procedures at the hospital or birth center you've chosen, and after you have completed most or all of your childbirth classes, you will be ready to write up your preferences in a birth plan. Your birth plan tells the nursing staff and your primary caregiver what you would like for your labor, delivery, and postpartum care.

Your plan doesn't have to be comprehensive. For example, unless enemas and shaving of pubic hair are routine at the hospital, you don't need to request an exemption from these procedures. (Of course, if you do need an exemption from such routines - and, especially, from rules requiring confinement to bed and an IV - you may want to consider giving birth somewhere else.) Keep your plan simple and clear. Page after page of requests will probably go unread. Focus on what you really care about.

Don't let your plan sound like a list of demands. Instead of "I do not want an episiotomy" (a cut through the perineum), say, "I hope to avoid an episiotomy." Be positive.

Issues you may want to consider include:

  • Support persons.
  • Movement or positions you may use.
  • Interventions, such as fetal monitoring, artificial rupture of the membranes, and episiotomy.
  • Keeping hydrated (by sipping drinks, sucking ice chips, or having an IV).
  • Pain relief (massage, hot and cold packs, relaxation and breathing exercises, use of a tub or shower, medication).
  • Baby care, including feeding and keeping the baby in your room.

Printable Checklist of Guidelines