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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.

Doctor having conversation with pregnant couple.

Your support team

The team that helps you plan your childbirth may include:

  • Healthcare provider or certified nurse-midwife. They give prenatal care (care during your pregnancy) and deliver your baby.

  • Labor nurse. This nurse assists during labor and birth.

  • Anesthesiologist or certified registered nurse anesthetist. This healthcare provider can provide medicine for pain control if you need it.

  • Support person. This person 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 (vaginal birth after cesarean) 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 vaccines right after my baby is born?

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Tennille Dozier RN BSN RDMS
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2024
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