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How to Write a Birth Plan

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Preparing for the birth of your baby is an exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming. There are many things to consider including where to give birth, whether you want a natural birth or pain meds, who to have present at the birth, and so on. This is where a birth plan can help you sort through these questions and determine your needs and desires. The following steps will help to highlight the most common considerations and assist you with writing your personal birth plan.
What you'll need: 
A computer
A printer
Begin by typing up some personal information about yourself. In two to three sentences, communicate to the staff any information you would like them to know such as fears, concerns, preferences, relevant past experiences with birth, and anything else that will assist the staff in getting to know you and treating your unique needs.
Include a brief “thank you” to the staff in advance for their support and assistance throughout the birth experience.
List the names of any individuals who will be present to support you during the birth. (Bear in mind that some hospitals and birth centres may restrict the number of people allowed in the birthing room, so plan accordingly.)
Once this introductory information is complete, begin outlining your preferences for the labour. Do you wish to remain active or would you prefer to stay in bed? Would you like to eat and drink at will or do you prefer intravenous fluids? Do you want continuous or intermittent foetal heart-rate monitoring? Do you plan to have an epidural or avoid pain medication entirely? Detail other preferences as your needs require.
Include your wishes for the birth, such as whether you want the freedom to move around and change positions during delivery; if you prefer spontaneous, reflexive bearing down or directed pushing; and whether you are comfortable with having an episiotomy or would prefer to take preventive measures (such as warm compresses or perineal massage). Again, there may be other considerations about the birth that are unique to you.
Consider the following options for postpartum care and include them in your plan: Do you wish to have the baby with you continuously or are you happy to have him or her spend some time in the nursery (if in hospital)? Do you want your doula or a loved one to stay overnight with you? Do you intend to breast or bottle feed? Are there any newborn procedures (e.g. vitamin K, eye care, etc.) that you do or do not want? Write in other considerations as needed.
Think about what your wishes might be in the event of complications or other unexpected outcomes (e.g. caesarean birth, premature baby, stillbirth). Although these possibilities are difficult to consider, it is important to discuss them with the father or other labour support person and include your desires in your birth plan.
This is your birth, so if there is anything you would like to incorporate into the experience, type that information here. For example, you can choose to play relaxing music and keep the lights down low. You may like the father or another loved one to cut the umbilical cord. Provided there are no complications, the staff should be able to accommodate these wishes.
Once you have completed your birth plan, print it off and have your doula, midwife, or other healthcare provider look it over for accuracy and feasibility. Discuss any alternative options or scenarios and then leave a copy with him or her to be kept as part of your permanent medical record. Ensure that you also bring a few copies along with you to the birth so that all staff involved will be aware of your needs and wishes.
Keep your birth plan as short and concise as possible, using bulleted sentences and brief paragraphs.
Ensure that you consider all procedures and possible outcomes before making your choice.
Enlist the help of a doula or other professional if you are unsure about a particular option.
Allow for your plan to be adapted based on circumstances that may arise. Be prepared for the unexpected and know ahead of time what you want in the event of complications or stalled labour, for example, so that you are not caught off guard.


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