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The Exit Strategy: Making and Sticking to a Birth Plan

May 24, 2016

Erika Posey, R.N.
Erika Posey, Labor & Delivery Registered Nurse

Every baby needs to make an entrance in style

The day you give birth is going to be one of the most memorable, joyful, incredible experiences of your life. The last thing you want to worry about while you’re feeling the pangs of labor is whether or not you remembered to pack your favorite blanket or if the nurse remembers that you asked for a specific timeline—and that’s where a birth plan comes in.


What is a birth plan?
Think of a birth plan as your ideal birthing day written down on paper, from the items you want to bring from home to the way you want your pain managed. By writing everything down in one place and handing copies to the appropriate parties that will be present on the big day, you’re giving yourself a few less things to worry about.

When you sit down with your partner and doctor to discuss the big day, you may want to take notes on the variety of things that could happen.  Some centers will have certain set routines when it comes to mothers giving birth, while others may be a bit more flexible. Your birth plan may include:

  • Who do you want to be present? This can include whom you want in the delivery room, the waiting room, as well as any arrangements that may need to be made for other children.
  • Do you have or want a doula or midwife present?
  • At what point in the labor process do you want or need to go to the hospital?
  • What kind of environment do you want to create? From music or other distractions to specific items from home, it’s important to make sure you’ll be comfortable.
  • Do you want pictures or video of the birth?
  • Do you have preferences for pain management or IVs?
  • Do you have preferences when it comes to situations that warrant an episiotomy or Cesarean section?
  • What are your preferences for the immediate care of your baby (where to sleep, when to eat, use of pacifiers, etc.)?

Other things to consider are the cutting of the cord, circumcision, the use of forceps, and the use of oxytocin to induce labor. To make sure you’re prepared for any kind of situation in the delivery room, talk with your doctor or care provider about potential situations.

There are a myriad of options when it comes to how you give birth, so be sure you understand what your birth center can provide for you and what they may not allow. Since it’ your body, you need to make sure you’re being heard; however, remember the ultimate goal is a safe and uncomplicated delivery.

Make Plans to Break Plans
Since babies aren’t especially good at doing what you want them to, there’s a chance that your little bundle of joy won’t be especially responsive to your birth plan. Instead of getting frustrated if something doesn’t go according to your plan, try to keep in mind that your birth plan is more of a guide and a best-case scenario.

Once you have your birth plan finalized with you, your partner, and your care provider, it’s important to supply copies to all pertinent parties. Be sure you also discuss any worst-case scenarios with your doctor and partner, just to be extra safe on delivery day.

Creating a birth plan can be a little harder than expected, but we’re here to help. Contact us with any questions or concerns—we’d love to chat with you about you and your baby’s needs for the big day!

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