What is a birth plan? It’s the foundation for the birth experience you want to have, with steps laid out to help you get there. Of course, labor and delivery don’t always go as expected. But having a plan you’ve shared it with your birthing team makes the unexpected much more manageable. Read on for four steps on writing a birth plan to help you get ready, and feel ready, for the big day.

1. Do your research.
Before you start drafting your birth plan, figure out your options. Talk to your mom friends, read books, and try to visualize what your dream birth experience looks like to you. During this step, you'll want to consider things like:

  • who you'll want in the birthing room with you
  • your preferred style of birthing or position
  • how you'd like to manage pain
  • options for Cesarian birth
  • what you'd like to happen in case of an emergency

Each of these components is a very personal choices, and knowing all of your options is crucial to making the best choice for you.

photo: iStock

2. Make your birth plan clear and concise.
The last thing you'll want to do while you're in labor is have to explain yourself. That's the main reason you've created a birth plan. As with any good plan, it needs to cater the person reading it. Your doctor or midwife, partner and labor and delivery nurses should not have to guess what you mean. Make sure they can quickly and easily understand your vision and what you want at different times throughout your entire experience. Keep your plan to one page and use these topics as a birth guide template:

  • requests before birth
  • requests during labor and delivery
  • vaginal vs. C-section birth preferences
  • requests for newborn care

photo: iStock

3. Share and discuss your plan by your 34th week.
Discuss your plan with your partner and doctor or midwife by your 34th week of pregnancy. This step allows you to confirm that what you'd like to happen is doable and that your team is all on the same page. Print out at least four copies: one for your doctor or midwife, one that stays with your partner, one for the birthing center and one for your hospital bag.

4. Be flexible.
No matter how much you've planned and written about what you'd like to happen during labor and delivery, things might not go as expected. In some ways, the flexibility you'll need to embrace during this time is the best preparation for parenthood. Check in with yourself and your breath and be compassionate to yourself during childbirth. We love this mom's story and declaration that a failed birth plan does not make you a failed mom.

—Aimee Della Bitta

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