Creating Birthing PlansThe purpose of a birth plan is to clearly communicate your wishes to everyone involved in the birth of your baby, including doctors, nurses, midwives, or doulas.  Creating this document ahead of time not only allows you to decide on what you want, but it allows you to succinctly outline what you’d like to happen throughout the labor and delivery process.

Birthing plans are particularly important if you plan to give to give birth in a hospital.  Depending on the length of your labor, you may experience one or more shift changes.  Having a birth plan can quickly communicate your labor and delivery expectations without you having to communicate through contractions!

Birthing plans should be concise; organize wishes into groups and organize details within groups by bullet points.  You want your birth plan to be quick to read and easy to understand.  Let’s take a look at information that you should consider incorporating into your plan.  For each of the listed bulleted points, you should write how you would like this issue to be handled during your labor and delivery.

Birth Environment

  • Lighting
  • Sounds, such as music
  • Clothing (your own? Hospital gown? Nothing?)
  • Photos or video of the event
  • Would you like a CD player? iPod dock? DVD player?

People Attending the Birth

  • Partner
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Midwife and/or Doula
  • Would you like to limit the number of hospital staff?

Fetal Monitoring

  • Internal fetal monitoring
  • External fetal monitoring
  • Doppler
  • Fetoscope

Pain Relief

  • Use natural pain relief (types?)
  • Use medical interventions (types?)

Delivery Positions

  • Delivery Bed
  • Squatting
  • Standing
  • Kneeling

Labor Aids

  • Water
  • Bean bag
  • Birthing ball
  • Birthing stool
  • Mirror

Induction

  • Medical induction?
  • Natural induction?

Episiotomy

  • Yes
  • No

Placenta

  • Save for Cord Blood collection
  • Save for encapsulation
  • Spontaneous expulsion
  • Manuel extraction

Cord-cutting

  • Who will cut the cord?

Breastfeeding

  • Immediately after birth
  • After newborn procedures
  • Plan on bottle feeding
  • Lactation consultant

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it is an excellent beginning.  Remember: you want your plan to be easily understand with a glance, so write concisely and keep it to just a page or two.  If possible, share your birthing plans with your healthcare professionals prior to going into labor and again when it begins—just to refresh everyone’s memory and ensure that everyone is on the same page!