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How To Create a Birth Plan

Woman learns how to create a birth plan
Pregnant woman works at a desk with her laptop open.

From childbirth classes to books and even apps, there are a lot of ways for expecting parents to prepare for the birth of their baby. Creating a birth plan is another tool parents can use to help guide their delivery.

A birth plan is a document that outlines a parent’s wishes, desires and goals for their upcoming labor and delivery. This plan can be shared with a partner, nurses and OBGYN or midwife. Because there are so many possibilities to consider, it can be difficult putting pen to paper.

Examples of birth plans

To get started patients can first look at a sample birth plan from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Some common questions patients may want to consider ahead of time include:

  1. Do I want pain medications?
  2. What kind of pain medications do I want?
  3. Who should be in the room, and who would I like to keep out?
  4. Are there certain tools I want to use during labor such as a birthing tub, mirror or birthing ball?
  5. Do I want to have photos taken?
  6. What is my possibility of eating and drinking during labor?

Some questions that used to be commonly considered in birthing plans are now often standard practice at many hospitals, including skin to skin time with the baby. One thing that’s easy to forget? The very real possibility that things will not go according to plan.

“Delivery is like a roller coaster. You’re going up, you’re going down, but you don’t dictate the direction of this ride,” said Stephen Thung, MD, chair of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science’s at Bridgeport Hospital. “I think most of the time it helps for people to understand that they're not always going to be able to control the situation and their predelivery wishes may not always be easily met.”

Dr. Thung recommends patients consider the unexpected when they create their birth plan. What happens if the baby is not tolerating labor? What happens if forceps or a vacuum delivery is needed? What happens if an unplanned cesarean section is needed? When discussing these situations in the heat of the moment, it can be hard for patients to listen to everything their provider is saying. That’s why it’s important to think about these situations in advance.

Patients may take comfort in knowing that their team of clinicians are ready to respond to an emergency if the baby needs additional care. Greenwich Hospital, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, Bridgeport Hospital and Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital all have NICUs staffed with highly trained specialists.

“I think that's one of the advantages we have at the Yale New Haven Health system. Patients should come and deliver here knowing that their babies are going to get the best care,” said Dr. Thung.

After the baby is delivered, patients can and should debrief with their provider. The best time to do that may not be immediately after delivery when patients are focused on their baby. Instead, have those follow up conversations during the recovery period and at the postpartum visit. If a patient needs extra support processing their labor and delivery, they should speak with their clinician about getting the help they need.