Mother in hospital bed with newborn

Birth plans: delivery environment, pain management, and more

So you’re pregnant. Awesome! You’ve probably been busy picking out names, toys, cribs, and everything else you’ll need for Baby. While preparing for after their arrival is important, it’s just as important to prepare for the birth itself, and the best way to do that is with your birth plan.

What can be included?

Anything goes! Birth plans can be bulleted lists or longer descriptions with photos and pictures – it’s totally up to you. Most birth plans are short, and it’s helpful to list your preferences and hopes for your labor, birth and early postpartum care (for you and baby). Your provider and you can go over this document prenatally, but it’s also designed for the healthcare workers who will be helping to care for you on the big day without ever having met you before.

Specifically, you can include:

  • How you want to go about each stage of labor: Walking through the steps of labor and outlining your hopes for everyone involved in the birth will help ease your nerves about the big day and aid in a happy, healthy birth.
  • How you’d prefer to handle pain: Every labor is different, and the only thing you can expect is the unexpected, but it’s still important to weigh the many options for pain treatment available at your facility.
  • The type of environment you want: Baby’s first view of the world is all up to you and your partner, so consider how you want to set up the room where your baby makes their big debut.
  • Who you want there: To create the most comfortable environment possible, you should be specific about who will help you to the finish line.
  • Plan A and Plan B: It’s helpful to explore your preferences in unexpected scenarios, like an unplanned cesarean or NICU admission.
  • Baby’s treatment after birth:  If you’re not sure what’s standard after giving birth, check out this article on typical testing and medications for newborns. Your feeding plan is also helpful to communicate.
  • Postpartum care for you: From pain management to plans for going home, it’s okay to mark down some preferences about your own care after giving birth.

Birth plans are a flexible and ever-changing document. It’s helpful to bring yours to your provider prenatally and get their take on what’s available where you plan to give birth or to make sure some things you’re hoping for are 100% standard already. Remember that you’re always free to change your plans or preferences in the moment, as there are usually twists and turns on this journey to Baby!

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