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Questions to ask yourself when making a birth plan

Do you have a birth plan?

Not every mom-to-be has one. But if you have certain preferences or ideas about your labor and delivery, you may want to make a birth plan.

What's a birth plan?

A birth plan spells out how you'd like your labor and delivery to proceed. It lets your provider know such things as who you'd like to have in the delivery room with you, whether you'd like pain medications and if you'd like your baby to be placed on your chest immediately after birth.

You can write out a birth plan at home. Then take it to your next medical appointment for review. Your healthcare provider can let you know how your preferences fit with his or her practices.

According to the March of Dimes, it's best for everyone to know in advance how you want your labor and delivery to go. You may even want to share your plan with your family. And bring several copies to the hospital when you're ready to give birth.

What questions should you ask yourself?

If you're taking a childbirth class, the instructor might help your draft a birth plan. But here are some things you may want to include in your plan:

  • The name and contact information of your primary support person during labor and birth.
  • The names and contact information of anyone else you'd like to have with you in the delivery room.
  • The kind of support you want during labor—help with breathing, for example, or massage.
  • What position or positions you'd like to be in during labor and delivery.
  • What kind of drugs, if any, are OK to use for labor pain. 
  • Whether you'd like your baby's umbilical cord blood to be saved.
  • Whether you want your baby circumcised if he's a boy.
  • If you want to hold your baby and nurse right after birth.
  • If it is or isn't OK for medical students to be present during your labor and delivery.

A few final pointers

Keep in mind that your birth plan is essentially a wish list. There's no guarantee that every aspect of your plan can be followed. Your hospital or birthing center may not be able to fulfill every request. You might even change your mind about some things once your labor has begun—give yourself permission to do so.

Make your birth plan simple, clear and short. And design yours with a positive focus, advises the American Pregnancy Association. Make a list of what you do want versus what you don't want. Use phrases like "I hope to…" or "I plan to…" Avoid phrases like "I don't want…"

You don't have to write up a birth plan before you have your baby. If the idea doesn't appeal to you or you don't have any strong preferences, that's OK. Not every mom-to-be is the same.

More pregnancy news

While you're in a planning state of mind, consider looking for a pediatrician to care for your little one. Get some tips on choosing a pediatrician.

Additional sources: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Office on Women's Health

Reviewed 1/11/2024

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