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Labor and Childbirth: Thinking About a Birth Plan

A birth plan outlines your wishes for labor and birth. It helps your healthcare providers know what you want and expect. But be aware that labor is a series of changing conditions and your birth plan may need to change at the last minute. Work with your healthcare provider to create a plan that leaves room for the unexpected.

Your support team

Doctor having conversation with pregnant couple.

The team that helps you plan your childbirth may include:

  • Healthcare provider. He or she gives prenatal care (care during your pregnancy) and delivers your baby.

  • Certified nurse-midwife. This is a registered nurse or other health care professional trained to care for pregnant women and deliver babies.

  • Labor nurse. This is a nurse who assists during labor and birth.

  • Anesthesiologist. This healthcare provider can provide medicine for pain control if you need it.

  • Support person. This is a person who helps with your emotional and physical comfort during labor. It might be your partner, a family member, or a friend.

  • Labor coach or doula. This person provides nonmedical advice and support.

Questions to think about

Birth preparation classes can help you think about what to include in your birth plan. When making your plan, ask yourself:

  • What type of room will I give birth in?

  • Do I want to be able to walk around during labor and choose labor positions?

  • What types of comfort measures do I want? Massage, acupressure, birth balls, or music?

  • Who do I want for my support people? What will their roles be? Who will be with me in the delivery room?

  • What are my choices for managing pain during labor and birth? How will medicines for pain affect my baby and my labor?

  • Do I want continuous fetal monitoring?   

  • What types of medicines and IV fluids will I allow to assist me with labor?

  • What types of procedures or medicines, (if any) will I allow to speed up the labor process?   

  • What type of care and length of hospital stay will my health plan cover?

  • What choices would I consider should unexpected circumstances develop?

  • If I had a cesarean in the past, is VBAC a choice?

  • Do I want immediate contact with my baby after birth with no separation?

  • How do I want to feed my baby?  Breastfeeding only, or will I allow some formula?

  • Do I want to delay any medicines or immunizations right after my baby is born?

Online Medical Reviewer: Kanipe, Jennifer, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Sacks, Daniel, MD, FACOG
Date Last Reviewed: 8/16/2015
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