A birth plan can be a wonderful tool for parents to use during the process of labor and delivery. Having a birth plan will help you to address and identify a number of different issues that concern the birthing process. It’s also a good way to communicate with your obstetrician or midwife and any other birthing staff that may be involved, in one way or another, with helping in the birth of your baby. That goes not only for health care providers, but for spouses, your other kids and even a Doula or birth assistant.
You should write up your birth plan around six weeks before your delivery date. At six weeks until delivery, it’s possible that you could delivery at any time. Generally that doesn’t happen unless there is a problem, but you want to be prepared. You can create your birth plan much before this, of course. There are even some couples that create a birth plan when they’re still trying to conceive.
There are a number of issues to be included in a birth plan. Really, everything is fair game. You will typically include your preferences about things like pain relief, who will and who will not be allowed in the delivery room, and what kinds of aids or accessories you would like to have to comfort you.
A birth plan might state that you should not be given medications unless you ask for them, for example. It might indicate that you prefer not to have any fetal monitoring unless there is a situation in which the health care staff believe your baby might be in some distress. You can specify things like whether you want an IV or an episiotomy.
Birth plans aren’t in any way binding, of course. A doctor that doesn’t follow your birth plan can’t be sued for that reason alone. This is why it’s important that you discuss your birth plan thoroughly with your doctor, so that she knows ahead of time what your preferences will be.
Some health care providers may take issue with your birth plan. This is especially common among older obstetricians. However, birth plans have become very common over the past couple of decades, so it’s likely that your doctor will have an open mind.