With the birth of your baby just around the corner, you’ve probably been reading everything possible on labor and delivery, attending childbirth education classes, and talking to friends and family who have recently had a baby about their experiences. And you’ve decided to create a birth plan because you have some specific ideas about how you want your experience to go.
Ironically, while you can find lots of templates out there to help you create a birth plan, none of them will tell you how to make that birth plan work for you, your baby, and your caregivers.

Understand the Restrictions

Want to have a parade of family and videographers on hand to record the big moment? First, it’s important to understand what’s possible where you’re planning to birth your baby. To keep you and your baby safe, your doctor or midwife has certain regulations they have to follow, and so do the nurses who care for you and your baby at your hospital or birth center. So before you spend a lot of time crafting a perfectly unworkable birth plan, follow these steps to make sure you create a plan everyone can live with:

1. Ask about your options

Will you be able to eat or drink during labor? Is a “walking epidural” an option? Ask what other mothers have done who have wishes similar to your own.

2. Tour your birthing facility

Call your chosen hospital or birth center for a tour. Ask about the availability of birthing balls, CD players, or anything else you’re desiring.

3. Engage your care provider

Ask your doctor or midwife if there is anything you need to know before you write your birth plan; their participation is necessary to make it work!

4. Respect the rules

Labor and delivery nurses want you to have a great experience, but they have to follow the rules to keep you and your baby as safe as possible.

5. Learn what’s typical where you plan to birth

Ask about your center’s policies on fetal monitoring – request limited fetal monitoring if you want to be moving around, but policies may dictate continuous monitoring under certain conditions.

Remain open to the experience

Once you know all this information, you can create a plan that will work for everyone involved. And lastly, the most important piece of advice that nurses give women regarding their labor and birth is to keep an open mind during the birth process. In the end, what really matters is that you emerge from the experience a healthy mom with a healthy baby. An open mind and flexibility should definitely be first and foremost in your plan!


Catherine Catie Chung PhD, RN, CNE, is a former nurse expert advisor to Healthy Mom&Baby in practice in Las Vegas, NV.

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