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A birth plan can help guide the birthing process with basic instructions, wishes, and expectations outlined for labor coaches, nurses, doctors, and your partner. However, writing a birth plan does not mean everything in labor will go as planned. Birth plans are typically created as a way to spell out what will happen during labor and delivery and address specific questions, such as preferred methods of pain management, who will be in the room, whether natural childbirth will be used, etc…

When plans change

However, the process for implementing each item on your birth plan immaculately may be a dream. Once labor begins, there is no way to tell whether you will change your mind on pain meds. You may go into labor thinking you want to try to have a natural childbirth but really want pain medication once the realities of the contractions set in, and that is perfectly fine. You can list what you’d like but also opt to change your plans, too.

In addition, an unexpected occurrence may happen which you didn’t account for in your original birth plan. You can and should change your birth plan if an event occurs during labor that alters your needs or desires. Keep in mind that doctors may also request (or even demand) changes in birth plans if the plan is not safe or supported by hospital rules and regulations. For example, the use of medical intervention may be necessary because labor has stalled or the baby is breech or too big or has a slow heart rate. So remember, that creating a birth plan should also be a lesson in patience and flexibility.

Here’s what you should pack for labor and delivery!

What goes in a birth plan?

A birth plan can include anything that you want to happen before, during, and after labor. Here are some ideas:

  • How you will experience labor: laying down, sitting, standing up, walking around, bouncing on a pregnancy ball

  • What pain medications you want or don’t want

  • Who you want in the room

  • Fetal monitoring: internal or external

  • Eating and drinking during labor

  • Birthing positions

  • Who will cut the cord?

  • Will your baby be placed immediately in your arms?

  • Preference for episiotomies

  • What will happen to the placenta

Birth plans help your partner and your team

The items you place in your birth plan can help you and your partner stay calm and centered in the delivery room. Having a document to turn to for quick reference can help when you are in the throes of labor, probably not in the best position to fully articulate your wants, and your partner may be feeling anxious. Your partner can refer to the birth plan as a guide throughout the process. This may help both of you feel calmer and more at ease from the beginning. Being flexible during birth is extremely important, and planning the birth should be fun as well as a way to guide your support team during labor to make your experience better.

Read More:
Common Postpartum Problems
What to Pack for Labor and Delivery!

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