Posted: Aug 29, 2012 11:00 AM
At this point in your pregnancy, the idea of putting together a birth plan can be overwhelming. Throughout the last two trimesters, you've likely felt out of control. So why not take the opportunity to put down on paper the things about your labor process that you can control? Read on for the birth plan 411.

What is a birth plan?

In a nutshell, a birth plan is defined as a simple, clear, one-page statement of your preferences for the birth of your child.

You'll make a list of your desires about everything from having an epidural to wanting skin-to-skin contact with your baby after he or she is born.

Why should you create a birth plan?

Well, number one, you don't have to create a birth plan. But if you do decide to do so, having a plan will ensure that everyone understands your hopes and desires for labor and birth. It could also make things easier for you so you don't have to make important decisions while in the throws of labor.

What should you include in your birth plan?

You'll find many checklists available online that can help you create a birth plan. Most birth plans focus on the following areas:

  • Labor induction/augmentation
  • Anesthesia/pain medication
  • Cesarean section delivery
  • Perineal care
  • Delivery
  • After birth
  • Postpartum
  • Breastfeeding

Can you change your mind after you've created a birth plan?

Of course! A birth plan is not a contract. It is not a legal document. It's simply a guideline that you can overrule at any point. Don't think of anything in the plan as being permanent. And you reserve the right to change your mind about anything (and as many times as you want) while giving birth to your baby.

The best laid plans...

It's best to lower your expectations when it comes to your birth plan. Just because you've written it down or checked it off a checklist doesn't mean it's going to happen. Birth is a fluid process (literally and figuratively) and if you can be flexible and know that you or your doctor might need to deviate from your plan, it will be a better process for you overall.

More about birth plans

How to prepare in case your home birth plan fails
How to write a birth plan
The pros and cons of creating a birth plan