A birth plan is a list of your preferences for labor and delivery. While labor and delivery involve many variables that you cannot predict, a birth plan can help you and your doctor or midwife to realize what is most important to you in preparing for the birth of your baby.
A birth plan is meant to be a plan or guideline and is not meant to be a binding agreement. However, a written birth plan is your best guarantee that the birth, delivery, and aftercare of your baby will take a path you are comfortable with. Since birth plans are relatively new and your doctor or nurse-midwife may not be initially comfortable with one, it is extra important go tell your heath care provider that you intend to create a birth plan and, after you have made your birth plan, to review it with your doctor or midwife.
Before you make final decisions about each of your birthing options, you should talk with your healthcare provider and tour the hospital or birth center where you plan to have your baby. While you are not able to control everything that happens to you during your baby's birth, you can play a major role in the decisions that are made about your body and your baby.
A birth plan typically covers:
Your wishes during a normal labor and delivery.
These include what you want regarding induction of labor and pain relief, enemas, fetal monitoring, the environment in which you deliver your baby, who you want to have present during labor and delivery (for example, your partner, mother, friend, doula, etc), whether or not you want your pubic area shaved, what birthing positions you plan to use, and if you want to avoid an a C-section and an episiotomy.
How you want your baby to be treated after birth
Your wishes may include who cuts the baby's umbilical cord, storage of the cord blood, placing the baby on your stomach immediately after birth or taken to the nursery, do you want to feed the baby immediately and will you breast feed or bottle-feed, will the baby stay in your room or stay in the nursery, and do you want anything else that needs to be clarified?
What happens in the case of unexpected events
Your birth plan should state your wishes in the event that your labor involves anything outside the normal vaginal delivery or if complications arise.
For more details about birth plans please visit the Kids Health link.
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