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The birth of a child is an extraordinary event. After nine months of carrying a child inside the body, the time comes to bring a new life into the world. With so many doctors, nurses, family members, and friends, however, birth can easily move from enjoyable to overwhelming.

What is a birth plan?

A birth plan is a simple, clear, flexible plan expressing the birth mother’s preferences during birth. The plan is not a medical guide or definitive declaration of how the birth will go, but it does give everyone involved an idea of the pregnant woman’s wishes.

More importantly, you must be flexible about your birthing expectations. Here is an example of a flexible birth plan.

Take Everything into Consideration

Hospital rules, regulations, and laws must be taken into consideration when writing the birth plan. Call the hospital where your birth will take place to ask for a list of common procedures followed by health care professionals during labor, delivery and postpartum care. Use this list as a guide when preparing your birth plan. Reading through hospital procedures may help you make a list of questions or issues to address in your birth plan. Some questions you may want to consider include:

Plan Early

Birth plans should be prepared well in advance of the expected due date. One page can be dedicated to the ideal labor and delivery, without complications. A second page can be used to address emergency situations, C-section deliveries and other changes to the ideal birth plan. Share both pages with your healthcare provider, friends, and family.

Have Confidence That You are in Control – Sort Of

Birth is a complicated process. Some women breeze throughlabor and delivery without complication or struggle and other women have a few bumps and issues along the way. The birth plan is a guide your doctor, friends, and family can use to help them support your wishes, but it is also a plan to help you maintain control.

There is nothing more overwhelming than seeing three or four hospital employees rushing in and out of the labor room; it can be easy to give up control, feeling lost in the hustle and bustle. Keep a copy of your birth plan with you during labor to remind yourself of the wishes you have expressed, but remember that the safety of your child will always be the first priority.