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Health & Pregnancy

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Labor and Delivery - Planning for Birth

Consider a birth plan

During your prenatal visits, talk with your doctor or midwife about your labor and delivery options. You may want to write them down as a birth plan. It's an ideal picture of what you would like to happen.

But try to be flexible. No labor and delivery can be predicted or planned. So give yourself permission to change your mind at any time. And be prepared for your childbirth to be different from what you planned. If an emergency arises, your doctor has a responsibility to ensure both your safety and your baby's safety. You may still share in decisions, but your choices may be limited.

What to put in a birth plan

When you are writing your birth plan, think about:

  • Who will deliver your baby.
  • Where you want to have your baby. Most women choose to work with a doctor and have their baby delivered in a hospital. Women at low risk for problems may choose to work with a midwife or have their baby at a birth center.
  • Who you want to be with you. You may want to have family and friends around you or only the baby's other parent or another support person, such as a doula.
  • Comfort measures you want to try. Breathing techniques, laboring in water, trying different positions, and having one-on-one support may help you manage pain.
  • Your preferences for medical treatments. Consider what type of pain medicine you would prefer, even if you don't think you'll need it. Just keep in mind that you may not always get to choose.
  • How your baby will be cared for after delivery. This might include having your baby stay in the room with you rather than going to the nursery, delaying some tests and procedures, and getting help with starting to breast-feed.

This is also a good time to decide whether you'll attend (if you haven't already) a childbirth education class, starting in your 6th or 7th month of pregnancy.

To help you get started on writing a birth plan, fill out the My Birth Plan form(What is a PDF document?). Take it to your next appointment to discuss your wishes with your doctor or midwife.

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