WHAT IS A BIRTH PLAN?, James Miller, MD (Digital)

By on July 20, 2017

birth plan

Many expectant mothers spend a lot of time thinking about a healthy pregnancy, baby names, baby showers, decorations, cribs, strollers and daycare.  Much time is spent thinking and preparing for the events leading up to and after birth, but what about your actual birth experience?

A birth plan is an opportunity to discuss your birth preferences with your partner and your provider prior to the big day.  Typically, birth plans cover the birth setting, hospital policies, fetal monitoring, medications in labor, pain relief measures, episiotomy, forceps or vacuum assisted delivery, and cesarean section. There are many websites that provide templates for birth plans to aid in the process and facilitate discussion.  Start by reviewing these templates with your partner. Some couples will put their preferences in writing and submit a one-page document detailing their preferences to formalize a discussion with their obstetrician.

What a birth plan is NOT

A birth plan is NOT a contract; it is a list of preferences. We, as obstetricians, have one overarching goal in mind – we want you to have a safe and healthy delivery.  As such, we will make recommendations based upon relevant scientific data and clinical experience to achieve this goal. If the processes of labor dictate a deviation from your preferences, we will explain the rationale why an intervention is necessary.

Do I need a birth plan?

Yes and no.  Yes, it is important to think about your delivery beforehand to establish expectations and prepare for many potential outcomes.  No, you don’t need to submit an actual plan though you may find it helpful.  Everyone approaches labor in their own unique way. Do what works best for you.

Quick Tips:

  • Set aside a time with your obstetrician to discuss your preferences at one of the many OB regular check-up visits.
  • Learn about hospital policies and state laws that are out of the control of your obstetrician.
  • Be flexible.

Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!