What is a birth plan and should you have one? A birth plan is a written document that outlines a pregnant person’s preferences and wishes for the labor, delivery, and postpartum period of childbirth. It is typically created during pregnancy and is meant to guide the medical team in providing care that aligns with the individual’s desired birth experience.
A birth plan may include a variety of information, depending on the individual’s preferences and priorities. Some common elements that may be included in a birth plan are:
Labor and Pain Management Preferences
Your birth may include choices about pain relief options, such as whether you prefer a natural birth without pain medication, or if you would like to use methods such as epidural anesthesia.
Labor and Delivery Environment
It may include preferences for the lighting, music, and atmosphere in the birthing room, as well as preferences for who will be present during labor and delivery.
Interventions During Labor and Delivery
You may want to include preferences about the use of interventions such as fetal monitoring, episiotomy, and labor augmentation methods like Pitocin.
Preferences for Delivery Positions
A birth plan may include preferences for positions such as squatting, kneeling, or using a birthing stool, as well as preferences for different pushing techniques.
Preferences for Newborn Care
Do include preferences for immediate skin-to-skin contact, delayed cord clamping, and breastfeeding initiation.
Cesarean Section Preferences
If a cesarean section (C-section) is necessary, a birth plan may outline preferences for the type of anesthesia, the presence of a support person, and desires for immediate skin-to-skin contact with the baby.
Postpartum Care Preferences
Don’t forget to include preferences for rooming-in with the baby, breastfeeding support, and plans for the postpartum recovery period.
It’s important to note that a birth plan is not a legally binding document, but rather a communication tool for you and your medical team to discuss and understand your preferences. It’s important to have open and honest conversations with healthcare providers to ensure that the birth plan aligns with the individual’s health and safety, as well as any medical or hospital policies. Birth plans can be a helpful tool for empowering individuals to have a more active role in their childbirth experience and promoting communication between you and your healthcare team.