A birth plan is an excellent tool for you to use when preparing for the birth of your child. Not only does creating a birth plan help you to identify and think through the things that you would like to see in regard to labor and delivery, it is also an excellent tool to use to communicate with those professionals that are involved with the birth of your baby, whether it is your health care provider, or whether it is your spouse, other children, or someone like a Doula.
A birth plan should be created prior to the last six weeks of pregnancy. After that point of your pregnancy, it is possible that you would go into labor, although you generally shouldn’t have to worry about going into labor until a week or two surrounding your due date. You can certainly begin to create a birth plan much sooner than that, and some couples who have been trying to conceive may even have created a birth plan prior to the time that they actually become pregnant.
A birth plan should include anything related to the labor and delivery process, as well as postnatal care, that you would like it to include. Typically, a birth plan will include things like your preferences for pain relief, who you would like to have in the delivery room, and what sorts of things you would like to have for comfort. For example, a birth plan might indicate that you are only to be given pain medications if you ask for them. It may indicate that you do not wish to have fetal monitoring unless there is a reason to expect fetal distress. Your birth plan might specify that you want to have a Doula with you in the delivery room. A birth plan can include things like whether or not you want an IV, an epesiotomy, or to be able to listen to music during labor and delivery.
It is important to discuss your birth plan with your health care provider. Your health care provider might have a preference for how certain things are done, and it is important to raise these issues prior to the time that you are in labor. Some health care providers might take some offense, or perhaps be skeptical about your birth plan. However, many health care providers are accommodating, as birth plans are becoming more and more common of a practice.